My Big Fat Greek Wedding (US - BD RA)
Jonathan takes a look at the Blu-ray of that movie everyone's mom loves..
Toula is 30. And unmarried. Which means as a nice Greek girl - she's a failure. All her cousins did the right thing - married Greek boys and made Greek babies. So everyone worries: what will become of Toula? Then one day she sees the ultimate unattainable guy and realizes the only way her life will get better is if she gets away from her big, fat Greek family. Toula escapes from the family restaurant. She exchanges her seating hostess jacket for a college diploma, convinces her aunt to give her a new job, and trades in her coke-bottle glasses for contact lenses, just in time for "him" to walk back into her life. Ian Miller is tall, handsome, but definitely not Greek. Their courtship is an Olympian culture clash. Can Ian handle Toula, her parents, her aunts,uncles, cousins and several centuries of Greek heritage? Will Toula discover the love she's been missing right in the heart of her big, fat family? (From the HBO synopsis)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is one of those romantic comedies that I don't exactly enjoy watching, but there are a lot of things I appreciate about it. Looking at it plainly, its easy to see familiar rom-com tropes like the overbearing family or the leading ladies "geek to chic" makeover. But on closer inspection one might realize that the movie also gracefully sidesteps a lot of the genres throws. For starters, the movie really doesn't have a central conflict. In fact, the title pretty much gives you the resolution. Sure there's the problem of the guy not being Greek, but this really only poses a problem in a couple of scenes, and the film moves on before the halfway mark. The central couple of the film get along without any problems. There's never a scuffle or a third act break-up. The lack of cynicism leaves plenty of room for charm. While this can also be viewed as a boring thing, I find it refreshing compared to most of these movies that awkwardly force a conflict into a story just to keep things moving. If nothing else, My Big Fat Greek Wedding feels free of such pointless genre traditions.
That said, I've never found the movie all that funny. The embarrassing family situations just don't tickle me, and a lot of the joke deliveries fall flat. Maybe it would be different if I grew up with a similar family dynamic. I do admire how restrained and family friendly the film is. Call me a prude, but its a nice change of pace from your typical, predictable sexed-up Hollywood comedies. The cast of mostly unknowns has plenty of charm. Michael Constantine is terrific as the family patriarch. His startling insensitivity made for a few of the only chuckles I got from the movie. Nia Vardalos, who wrote the film as a semi-autobiography, is great in her role. I'm sad to see that her work following the film has not been as well-received, though I haven't personally seen any of it. I also haven't seen the TV series, My Big Fat Greek Life, which followed, though I don't know any one who liked it nearly as much as the film. As an original independent film, it remains a pleasant viewing experience, and I think it is totally deserving of the surprise hit status it achieved. At the time that I'm writing this it still holds the box office record for the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time.
HBO Films brings this modest independent comedy to Blu-ray with a reasonably strong 1080p transfer. The feature takes up 28 GB of a BD-50 disc. It's always nice to see companies release catalog titles with a proper bit rate, while some major studios put out new releases crammed onto a BD-25. During the opening titles I noticed some telecine wobble, but this seems to be relegated to first couple of minutes. Afterwards I didn't notice any at all. Compression occasionally makes itself known in large monochromatic patches of colors. I also caught a glimpse of a couple damage marks. There is some noticeable pixelation and occasionally some very distracting shimmering surrounding bright whites. Each of these is infrequent enough to not be a major issue though. Overall the picture quality is very consistent. Colour looks very natural, with no particular shade standing out. Black levels could be better, but they are at least consistent. There's a nice light grain over the picture that never gets smeared out by any post-processing, and also never looks too harsh.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is more than this film really needs. Shot on a very small budget, the movie doesn't have much of a dynamic sound mix to make good use of the 5.1 channels. The only thing that takes real advantage of the technology is the Greek string instruments that show up in the soundtrack a couple of times. The fast strums and piercing high notes bounce around the sound mix with plenty of livelihood. The surround channels also showcase some activity during the party scene, though its really just some background chatter and nothing substantial. For the majority of the runtime you are just hearing dialogue from the center channel with some occasional sounds coming from the stereo speakers. Voices are very clear and never take the backseat to other noise in a scene. There really isn't anything to complain about here
A Look Back at My Big Fat Greek Wedding (HD, 29:05) is a charming retrospective that Nia Vardalos kicks off. Covering similar ground to the commentary track, she talks about her real family experiences that inspired the film and goes into some detail about how the film got made. Ten minutes in, John Corbett joins the interview and talks about how he got involved with the movie. The last portion of the feature covers the modest release of the film, the press tour they went on, and their joyful surprise as the film grossed $368 million dollars and became a box office sensation.
There are five Deleted Scenes (HD, 05:01). While these are encoded in HD, the picture quality on them is actually quite poor. There isn't anything very substantial or particularly funny in these, so there's no surprise they didn't make it into the final cut. Lastly there is an Original 2002 Audio Commentary with Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, and director Joel Zwick. If you want a scene-by-scene accounting of what jokes and incidents in the film were from Vardalos's real life, this is the commentary track for you. It sounds like her and Corbett recorded theirs together, while Zwick's was done separately. There is hardly any interaction between commentators anyways. Corbett mostly talks about how much he likes certain scenes, or how embarrassing the baptism scene was for him. Zwick gives similar input. There's nothing technical on this track at all. It's all recounting Vardalos's life and memories from being on set. If you're a big fan of the cast members, you may find some charm in this track.
While My Big Fat Greek Wedding doesn't get a lot of laughs out of me, I have no contempt toward it. It was a very modest production that became a box office sensation, and I'd like to think it was because of how the film carefully steps over the annoying trappings of most romantic comedies. HBO Films bring the movie to Blu-ray for the first time with a mostly strong AV presentation. Extras are slim, but there is a nice retrospective that fans of the cast will find worth their time.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Jonathan Hogberg
Some material may not be suitable for children
Release Date: 13th November 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS Spanish 2.0,
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Greek
Extras: A Look Back at My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Deleted Scenes, 2002 Commentary with Nia Vardalos & John Corbett & Director Joel Zwick, Digital Copy, DVD Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Joel Zwick
Cast: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine
Genre: Comedy and Romance
Length: 95 minutes
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