Starring: Nia Vardalos and Richard Dreyfuss
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
How many cultural stereotypes can you fit into a feature length film? Well, writer Mike Reiss manages to pack quite a few into My Life In Ruins starring Canadian-born stand-up comic and over night Hollywood success, Nia Vardalos.
Just as baggage-handlers unions throughout the world refuse to lift anything over an agreed limit, so too should the actor’s guild slap a band on cinematic projects that rely on a ridiculous amount of stereotypes and cultural clichés to tell a story.
Ok, Australians like their grog, Canadians are typically nice, Greek bus drivers like to ogle pretty women, the souvlaki is popular in Greece and, yes Greeks like to dance to forget their worries – as does Zorba.
You would think that such an excessive reliance of clichés would ruin My Life in Ruins yet, surprisingly, they seem to drive this light-hearted sweet family comedy.
Georgia has lost her kefi and there is virtually no hope of rediscovering it in a dingy Athenian tour operation office where she works to make ends meet.
If you enjoyed the mega hit, My Big Fat Wedding, then there is a good chance you will appreciate this yarn about a women looking to ignite her sexual spark.
In this film, the recently widowed American sage, played by Richard Dreyfuss, spins his magic with the idiot savant and handsome Poopy to reacquaint Georgia with her kefi – which is stereotypically part of the Greek DNA.
Overall, the plot works to deliver a well paced and well supported middle-of-the road comedy that will make you smile.
Close to the films’ end, Nia Vardalos’ character explains to her B-grade trans-global tour group that she is inspired by the sound the wind makes as it blows through the Parthenon’s ancient columns.
This, as she goes on to explain, reminds us of how nature and the creative spirit combines to inspire art.
Although there is nothing too artistic in this formulaic American comedy, the family will, nonetheless, be entertained.
Vardalos’ second foray into a Greek flavoured comedy shtick may be a fraction too sweet for some.
Others, however, will devour this comic melodrama with the same gusto as a syrup-soaked melomakarono. You may need a strong black Greek coffee to rid the cloy aftertaste.
Although My Life in Ruins tries to please all, it is essentially a film that the grandparents can take their twelve-year old grandchild to for some light entertainment and a rudimentary introduction to Greece’s stunning ruins and scenery.
It would cap off a fine day of Greek culture – US style.