When Nia Vardalos’ romantic comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” hit theaters in 2002 it became a word-of-mouth, sleeper hit (to the tune of over $350 worldwide). Much of the film’s success came from the fact that the Portokalos family was so relatable, with the demanding parents, and their quirky, ethnic traditions. Last spring, Vardalos announced on Twitter that a sequel was in the works.
We at Indiewire couldn’t be more ecstatic, but we’re also a little nervous. Vardalos’ follow-ups like “My Life in Ruins” and the TV spinoff “My Big Fat Greek Life” had their hearts in the right place, but didn’t pan out in the long run. Also, one of the reasons the first film succeeded was that it was a true indie project. Now that the sequel has a studio involved, we’re guessing it will lose some of the original’s pluckiness.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for Vardalos; just a few suggestions as to what we’d like to see and what she should avoid when embarking upon her latest venture:
1. Do enlist Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson to produce. [Check! Both are now officially on board!]
Wilson has an established relationship with Vardalos, and Hanks has one of the most successful producing careers in the business. Though their collaboration on some of Vardalos’ projects haven’t been successful (“Connie and Carla” anyone?) we trust them to make it work.
2. Do find a way to rekindle the romance between Vardalo’s character Toula and her husband Ian (John Corbett).
One of the most charming elements of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was watching those two fall hopelessly in love with each other despite everything that stood in their way. Well it’s 12 years later and their marriage has, like any, gone through its ups and downs. Maybe they’ve hit a rut? To be clear, we’re not advocating for them to hit a serious rough patch or to break up, we just want to watch them woo and be wooed all over again and in new ways.
3. But don’t rely on your chemistry with Corbett to sell tickets.
No one liked “I Hate Valentine’s Day,” so the magical pairing apparently doesn’t work all the time.
4. Do show us the food.
Think about how much the foodie movement has blown up in the past 12 years. There are dozens of recent television shows and films devoted to food, and Jon Favreau’s “Chef” just made us hungry for more. Sure there were some delicious (and hilarious) scenes involving food in the first film, but with food porn at an all time high, we’re going to need some more detailed shots of cooking and eating that fabulous Greek cuisine.
5. Don’t bring back the Windex joke.
In order for it to remain sacred, leave it in the past.
6. Do bring in another giant family.
Vardalos told Mashable that the plot would likely revolve around another wedding. Might we suggest marrying off Toula’s adorable big brother Nick (Louis Mandylor)? And might we also suggest that he marry someone whose family is just as big and loud with its own ethnic specificity and traditions to accompany it?
7. Don’t rely on the addition of cute kids.
Way too many films bring in the adorable child to help boost up a sequel and more often than not it fails. We’re all for having Toula and Ian passing on their genetic gifts in the form of a big family, but we don’t need big eyes and a sassy mouth to try and steal the spotlight.
8. Do explore Toula’s relationship with her daughter.
At the end of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” we were given a glimpse of Toula and Ian’s little girl. That little girl is now a teenager, and in addition to the usual struggles of growing up, Toula’s daughter will no doubt be going through the same issues she did when it comes to feeling like you don’t fit in because of how much your family sticks out. Plus, it would help the film pass the Bechdel test (which it hopefully would have passed anyway.)
9. Don’t take a trip to the motherland.
10. Do consider incorporating something about the economic collapse in Greece.
A lot has changed in the world economically since 2002. The collapse in Greece could serve as fodder for a whole new load of Greek relatives joining Toula and her family in America. Perhaps some of them even have to live with them until they find their footing. But don’t make it a total downer.