It’s been fourteen years since Toula Portokalos-Miller had her Big Fat Greek Wedding, but now it’s time to round up the family and do it all over again. Except this time there’s a difference.
When we join Toula and Ian again, they’re now parents to a teenage daughter who’s all set to go to college (as far away from her family as possible).
As they struggle to find the balance between being good parents and making time for each other, the couple still must deal with Toula’s ever-present, overbearing Greek family.
Back in the eighties, NASA sent a time capsule up into space to connect with possible life forces on other planets. But when neighbouring aliens discover a feed of classic arcade games such as Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede and Space Invaders, they interpret it is a threat of war. Fearing for the safety of their planet, they send pixelated monsters in the shape of beloved video game characters to Earth to destroy mankind, and the only people who can stop it are record-breaking gamers Sam Brenner, Will Cooper, Ludlow Lamonsoff and Eddie "The Fire Blaster" Plant. Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten is also on the team, providing a set of creative weapons to defeat the characters. But can this group of gaming experts really stop Pac Man eating up the city?
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In 1982, Earth created a time capsule of popular culture from the era, and sent it into space in order to establish contact with extra-terrestrial life. Somehow, an ancient race of alien lifeforms that have never had any other contact with mankind did not understand the meaning of the 'message'. They especially take offence to the inclusion of 'Pac Man' and 'Donkey Kong', and assemble an army of pixelated, murderous 1980s video game characters and send them back to Earth to destroy the humans. With the world on the brink of destruction by a giant 'Pac Man', mankind has just one hope: a hodgepodge collection of retro gamers, using their old techniques to defeat the greatest video game boss of all time.
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The film's families consist of African-American, Asian, Jewish, and Hispanic protagonists, all exaggerated characters who weave in and out of hackneyed plots. From the Jewish perspective, there's the tongue-tied matriarch Seelig (Lainie Kazan) who has an annoyingly cute way of enunciating certain words. Ma Seelig is somewhat speechless when she eventually gets to meet her daughter Rachel's (Kyra Sedgwick) lesbian lover Carla (Julianna Margulies, late of television's ER). Then there's the Spanish viewpoint where an estranged couple, the Avilas (Mercedes Ruehl and Victor Rivers), are forced to reunite upon the insistence of their adult children. There's also obvious tension when Vietnamese Jimmy Nguyen (Will Yun Lee) dares to play footsies with Hispanic Gina Avilas (Isidra Vega). And the black family the Williamses (headed up by Alfre Woodard and Dennis Haysbert) has issues as well.
Continue reading: What's Cooking? Review
Watching the 1989 movie today, it's not just an unabashed chick flick, it's also revealed as a plain-old Bad Movie. For starters, it's not really about anything, instead preferring to work (or not) as a collection of loose scenes that illustrate the ups and downs of two friends (Midler and Barbara Hershey) from their pre-teens to the grave. Things happen, but not much. The film's only real plot point comes in the last act (spoilers ahead if you care), when Hershey's character croaks on us, sticking Midler with her daughter.
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Sometimes a movie's success stems more from spirit, charm and perseverance than from any originality or artistry involved in its creation. The unabashedly confectionery ethnic comedy-romance "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is a shining example of just that phenomenon.
Of the same feel-good disposition as the Aussie sleeper hit "Strictly Ballroom," it's a low-budget, ugly duckling fairytale that is predictable and brimming with clichés -- but so earnest, funny and joyful that it's a complete delight all the same.
Adapted by Nia Vardalos from her own one-woman stage show, the movie also features Vardalos in the starring role as 30-ish Toula Portokalos, a frumpy, lovelorn waitress in her father's Greek restaurant. A shy girl who's fed up with her huge family's amusingly, exasperatingly intrusive hounding about finding a husband, she seeks self-empowerment by enrolling in community college computer classes, getting a make-over and taking new job at a relative's travel agency. In the process Toula discovers her assertive, flirtatious side -- just in time to meet Mr. Right.
Continue reading: My Big Fat Greek Wedding Review
Too many crooks spoil "The Crew," and I'm not talking about the "grumpy old mobsters" played by Richard Dreyfuss, Burt Reynolds, Dan Hedaya and Seymour Cassel in this withering wiseguy comedy.
I'm talking about the throng of sardine-packed subplots that rob these good actors of all their quality screen time.
This facetious foursome play mobsters retired to South Florida who wind up in the middle of a drug war by trying to keep the run-down hotel they live in from going condo in the wake of all the Porsche-driving 20-somethings moving to town.
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A talented ensemble cast brings an extremely authentic family dynamic to "What's Cooking?," a satisfying four-course cross-section of ethnic American clans gathering for their Thanksgiving dinners.
Conceived by director Gurinder Chadha as a celebration of diversity, the film opens with an ironic shot of an advertisement on the side of a Los Angeles bus featuring an airbrushed white-bread family carving a turkey. Chadha then moves inside the bus to show the rainbow of races living together in the area, then on into a grocery store, where she picks up her first story in which a young Mexican-American man (Douglas Spain) bumps into his exiled father (Victor Rivers) and invites him home for Thanksgiving dinner.
This doesn't sit too well with his mother (Mercedes Ruehl), who had kicked Rivers out after discovering he'd had an affair. But she's prepared to make the best of it as her huge family gathers for their traditional daylong holiday preparations, mixing turkey with a cornucopia of Latino delicacies.
Continue reading: What's Cooking? Review
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