Tottering down the aisle 14 years after My Big Fat Greek Wedding became the most successful romantic comedy of all time, Kirk Jones’ sequel is like a batch of homemade baklava that has been left out too long and gone stale.
Dry, flaky yet undeniably sweet, this second snapshot of daily life with the dysfunctional Portokalos family is studded with the same one-joke characters, who unite in adversity with fierce nationalistic pride.
Screenwriter Nia Vardalos makes the second film to a similar recipe, flinging obstacles in the path of true love while various larger than life relatives excitedly offer their two drachmas worth of advice.
Every exaggerated set piece is starved of belly laughs, from the family patriarch’s repeated assertions that Greece gave birth to every modern invention - “The Greeks created Facebook - we called it the telephone” - to the nervous coming out of a gay character that feels like a non-event.
Affection for the original film can only stretch so far and even at a trim 94 minutes, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 feels needlessly padded.
It seems like a lifetime since Greek-American singleton Fotoula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) shocked her nearest and dearest by falling in love with non-Greek upper middle class beau, Ian Miller (John Corbett).
They are happily married with a rebellious 17-year-old daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), who is applying to colleges on the other side of the country so she can wriggle free of her overly protective parents.
Toula’s father Gus (Michael Constantine) is convinced he is a direct descendant of Alexander The Great and begins to research the family tree.
In the process, he uncovers a long buried family secret: his marriage certificate to sweetheart Maria (Lainie Kazan) wasn’t signed by the priest so in the eyes of the law, they aren’t husband and wife.
“Who cares? We’re married by time served,” cackles Maria.
Toula, her brother Nick (Louis Mandylor), cousins Nikki (Gia Carides) and Angelo (Joey Fatone), and interfering Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) pledge their support to organising a wedding at short notice so Gus and Maria can tie the knot properly.
Meanwhile Paris shrugs off Gus’ suggestion that she needs to find a Greek husband as soon as possible and nervously prepares for a prom date with classmate Bennett (Alex Wolff).
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is acrimoniously divorced from subtlety and invention.
Jones’ film goes through the motions with a depressing lack of urgency or purpose.
Once again, Martin voraciously scene steals as the perfectly coiffed doyenne of fruity sexual advice.
Vardalos drizzles on sticky sentiment at regular intervals in the vain hope that a few tears might flow in the absence of laughter.
Even besotted fans of the blockbusting original will struggle to say, “I do”. There’s no swearing and no sex and it’s a pleasant enough film.