RATING |

Perfection, we're told, takes time.

Guess that's why it took 14 years for Hollywood to deliver a sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the 2002 sleeper hit that became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time.

I hate to disappoint, but unlike 14-year-old single-malt scotch, there's nothing special about the new film.

Imaginatively titled My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, it's a carbon copy of the first picture, but without any of the fun. Predictable, tired, formulaic, it makes up for its lack of originality with a bigger budget, louder jokes, louder costumes, and louder music.

The first film was something of a watershed. It was successful as a romcom despite leads who didn't look like they belonged in Teen Beat. Set in a middle-class Chicago neighborhood, it followed the lives and loves of ordinary-looking, slightly overweight - ethnic-looking - folks.

Nia Vardalos' unassuming picture, starring the writer herself as a Greek American whose romance with a WASP (John Corbett) is almost ruined by her meddlesome family, was made for $5 million and has brought in more than $368 million.

Fans will be delighted to learn that the core cast returns for the sequel, including Andrea Martin, Gerry Mendicino, Ian Gomez, and Bess Meisler (as the awesome Yiayia). They're joined by a few new faces, including John Stamos as a local TV news anchor and Rita Wilson, who coproduced both films, as his wife.

Fourteen years on, the Portokalos clan is as close as ever - the entire extended family lives next door to one another in a row of houses on the same street. Toula and Ian (Vardalos and Corbett) have a good marriage and a great teenage kid, Paris (Elena Kampouris). But their lives are once again thrown into chaos when Toula's parents, Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan), discover that their marriage license was never signed.

Gasp! They've been living in sin for 40-odd years!

When Gus says their priest will sign a new one, Maria balks. She kicks him out of the bedroom, demanding he take her out on dates and properly propose before she'll have him back.

Get past that thin reed of a premise, and you're in for 90 minutes of madness and mayhem as the clan comes together to put on a memorable wedding for the couple. Never mind that virtually every joke and gag is based on an ethnic stereotype that has been exaggerated to a grotesque degree. The fake Greek American accents are grating.

More troubling still, director Kirk Jones' picture has very little of anything we might recognize as film acting. Like so many comedies today, the performers don't try to inhabit their parts. Instead, they stand around the set in awkward, highly self-conscious poses and throw their lines at each other.

Add to this the film's saccharine definition of love and its shallow moral lessons, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 becomes a pretty objectionable picture.

215-854-2736