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My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Theatrical poster
Directed by Joel Zwick
Produced by Gary Goetzman
Tom Hanks
Rita Wilson
Written by Nia Vardalos
Starring Nia Vardalos
John Corbett
Lainie Kazan
Michael Constantine
Ian Gomez
Distributed by IFC Films
Release date(s) April 19, 2002 (2002-04-19)
Running time 95 minutes
Language English
Budget $5 million
Gross revenue $368,744,044[1]
Followed by My Life in Ruins

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a 2002 romantic comedy film written by and starring Nia Vardalos and directed by Joel Zwick. At the 75th Academy Awards, it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. A sleeper hit, the film grossed $241.4 million in North America, despite never reaching number one at the box office during its release (the highest grossing film to accomplish this feat).



The movie is centered on Fotoula "Toula" Portokalos, a middle class Greek-American woman (Nia Vardalos, who also wrote the script), who falls in love with a non-Greek upper middle class WASP fellow, Ian Miller (played by John Corbett).

Toula is going through an early midlife crisis. At thirty, she is the only woman in her family who has "failed": her family expects her to "marry a Greek, have Greek babies and feed everyone until the day [she] die[s]." Instead, Toula is stuck working in the family business, a restaurant. In contrast to her "perfect" sister, Athena (Stavroula Logothetis), Toula is frumpy and cynical. She fears she's doomed to be stuck with her life as it is.

At the restaurant, she encounters Ian Miller, a school teacher, an event which changes her outlook. She goes to school to learn computers, and eventually goes to work at her aunt's travel agency. She also begins to care more about her appearance.

Toula feels much better in her new job, especially when she notices Ian hanging around looking at her through the window. They finally introduce themselves and begin dating. Toula keeps the relationship secret from her family until some weeks later when Gus (her father) finds out. Gus throws a fit because Ian is not Greek. Ian asks permission to continue seeing Toula. Gus refuses, but Toula and Ian continue to see each other.

Ian proposes, Toula accepts, and Gus is ultimately forced to accept their relationship. Ian readily agrees to convert to the Greek Orthodox faith in order to be worthy of Toula, and is baptized in traditional fashion. At the family's Easter festival, Ian confesses he is a vegetarian — a brief crisis for the entire family ensues — and he has a lot of trouble pronouncing Greek words (Made even worse when Toula's brothers give him the wrong phrases deliberately, such as telling that the Greek for "You all have three testicles" actually means "Let's all go into the house").

As the year passes, the wedding planning hits snag after snag as Toula's relatives "helpfully" interfere; her father insists on inviting the entire church to the ceremony, her mother orders the invitations but misspells Ian's parents' names, and Toula's cousin Nikki orders tacky bridesmaids' dresses. Toula is horrified to learn that her parents invited the entire family to what was meant to be a "quiet" dinner, and the Millers, unused to such cultural fervor, are overwhelmed.

The wedding day dawns with liveliness and hysteria, but the traditional wedding itself goes without a hitch. Everyone goes to the reception, and the Millers, fortified with many glasses of ouzo, begin to enjoy the Greek partying lifestyle. Gus gives a speech accepting Ian and the Millers as family.

Gus and Maria buy a gift for the young couple: a house right next door to them. The film's epilogue shows the Millers' life a few years later in which they have a daughter that they raise in the Greek style.


Location and release dates

The film was shot in Toronto and Chicago. Toronto's Ryerson University and Greektown neighborhood feature prominently in the film. Despite its writer being from Winnipeg, and the use of Toronto for location shots, the movie was set in Chicago. Walking tours of Greektown on Danforth Avenue point out scene locations. The home used to depict Gus and Maria Portokalos' residence (as well as the home bought next door at the end of the film for Toula and Ian) is located on Glenwood Crescent just off O'Connor Drive in East York. The real home representing the Portokalos' residence actually has most of the external ornamentation that was shown in the film. Also, some minor parts of the movie were shot in Jarvis High School in Toronto.

After a February 2002 premiere, it was initially released in the USA April 19, 2002. That summer it opened in Iceland, Israel, Greece, and Canada. The following fall and winter it opened in Turkey, UK, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil, Norway, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Taiwan, the Philippines, Egypt, Peru, Sweden, Mexico, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Switzerland (German speaking region), France, Poland, Kuwait, Estonia, and Lithuania. It was finally released in South Korea in March 2003, and Japan in July 2003.

Reception and performance

My Big Fat Greek Wedding became a sleeper hit and grew steadily from its limited release. Despite never hitting the #1 spot and being an independent film with a $5 million budget, it ultimately grossed over $368 million worldwide, becoming one of the top romantic films of the 21st Century according to Echo Bridge Entertainment.[1]

It was the fifth highest grossing movie of 2002 in the USA, with USD$241,438,208, and the highest-grossing romantic comedy in history.[2] Domestically, it is also the highest-grossing film never having been number 1 on the weekly North American box-office charts.[3]

The movie received generally positive reviews. Martin Grove of Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson [...] found 'Wedding' when it was a one-woman Nia Vardalos play in L.A. and believed in it so much that they got it made as a movie".[4]

My Big Fat Greek Life

The movie inspired the brief 2003 TV series My Big Fat Greek Life, with most of the major characters played by the same actors, with the exception of Steven Eckholdt replacing John Corbett as the husband. Corbett had already signed on to the TV series Lucky. He was scheduled to appear as the best friend of his replacement's character, but the show was cancelled before he appeared. The show received poor reviews from critics noting the random character entrances and serious plot "adjustments" that didn't match the movie.

The 7 episodes from the series are available on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, whose TV studio division produced the show.

Cultural references

Throughout the film, Kostas "Gus" Portokalos, played by Michael Constantine, continuously uses Windex, the popular window cleaner, as a remedy for everything.

The movie makes reference to Zorba the Greek (1964), The Lost Boys (1987), That Thing You Do! (1996), and Meet the Parents (2000), while spoofing Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). Another independent Canadian feature, Mambo italiano (2003), referenced Wedding. Because of the surprise success of Wedding and its unusual title, its name was lampooned by several television series and movies:


External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a 2002 romantic comedy film written by and starring Nia Vardalos. The movie is centred on Toula, a Greek-American woman (Nia Vardalos), who falls in love with a non-Greek American, Ian (played by John Corbett). The movie also examines the protagonist's relationship with her family, with their cultural heritage and value system, which is sometimes rocky but ends with mutual appreciation.

Love is here to stay... so is her family.


Aunt Voula

  • [upon learning Ian is a vegetarian] What do you mean, you don't eat no meat? [the entire room stops, in shock. We hear plates break and there are gasps.] ... That's okay. I make lamb.
  • [to Ian's parents] Now, you are family. Okay. All my life, I had a lump at the back of my neck, right here. Always, a lump. Then I started menopause and the lump got bigger from the "hormonees." It started to grow. So I go to the doctor, and he did the bio... the b... the... the bios... the... b... the "bobopsy." Inside the lump he found teeth and a spinal cord. Yes. Inside the lump was my twin. [Ian's parents are horrified. Voula grabs a drink and toasts.] Hupah!!
  • Tell me what to say. But don't tell me what to say.
  • Toula. Toula! You're engaged! You're engaged-We never think this would happen for you-Never! Never. Taki, didn't we say that..?
  • [Watching Ian dance at the reception] Oh, Taki... he looks Greek.
  • [Telling Ian's Family] Look, we give it the gift, that is what we do.


  • [narrating] In Greek school, where I learned valuable lessons such as: "If Nick has one goat and Maria has nine, how soon will they marry?"
  • [narrating] My dad believed in two things: That Greeks should educate non-Greeks about being Greek and every ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy can be cured with Windex.
  • [seeing herself in her wedding gown for the first time] I'm a snow beast!

Gus Portokalos

  • Toula, there's two kinds of people, Greeks, and everybody else who wish they was Greeks.
  • Welcome to my home. Over here is my brother, Ted, and his wife, Melissa, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. Over here, my brother Tommy, his wife Anzie, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. And here, my brother George, his wife Freda, and their children, Anita, Diane and Nick. Taki, Sophie, Kari, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, uh, Nikki, and I am Gus.
  • Hello. Welcome to the Portokalos family and welcome the-the Miller family. I-I was thinking last night, um, the night before my-my daughter was gonna marry, uh, I-an Miller, that, um, you know, the root of the word Miller is a Greek word. Miller come from the Greek word Milo, which is mean apple, there you go. As many of you know, our name Portokalos is come from the Greek word Portokali, which means orange. So, okay, here tonight we have, uh, apple and orange... we all different, but, in the end, we all fruit.


  • Nicko! Don't play with the food! When I was your age, we didn't have food!


  • I've never seen my sister this happy, Ian. [serious] If you hurt her, I'll kill you and make it look like an accident.


Gus: Now, gimme a word, any word, and I'll show you how the root of that word is Greek. Okay? How about arachnophobia? Arachna, that comes from the greek word for spider, and phobia is a phobia, is mean fear. So, fear of spider, there you go.
Schoolgirl: Okay, Mr. Portokalos. How about the word kimono?

[Toula is staring at Ian, oblivious that Mike and Ian notice.]
Mike: Hi?
Toula: [coming back to reality] Hi. Sorry. My brain...switched off, you know. You ever have one of those days? Going along and then...stop. Here I am, standing here, your own private Greek statue. [Ian laughs]
Mike: Could I, uh, get some more coffee?
Toula: Sure. [she pours Ian a cup and then walks off]

Toula: Dad, I've been going through our inventory and, um, I've noticed that we've been doing a lot of unnecessary ordering. Um, so, I've been thinking that maybe we should update our system, like, get a computer. I don't know if you remember, but I got all A's in computers. But there's a lot of new stuff to learn now, so, um, if you want, I could go to college and, um, take a few courses.
Gus: Why? Why you want to leave me? [starts crying]
Toula: [upset by her father's overreaction] I'm not leaving you! Don't you want me to do something with my life?
Gus: Yes! Get married! Make babies! You look so...old!

Maria: Toula, on my wedding night, my mother, she said to me, "Greek women, we may be lambs in the kitchen, but we are tigers in the bedroom!"
Toula: Eww. Please let that be the end of your speech.

[Maria promises Toula that she will talk to Gus about Toula wanting to attend college.]
Toula: Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. "Ah, the man is the head of the house!"
Maria: Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.

Gus: You sneak around all over Chicago, but you never come here to ask me, can you date my daughter?
Ian: Well, I'm sorry, I'll ask you if I can date your daughter. Sir, she's 30 years old.
Gus: I am the head of this house.
Ian: Okay, may I please date your daughter?
Gus: No!

Maria: Ian, are you hungry?
Ian: Uh no, I already ate.
Maria: Okay, I make you something.

Ian: What do you do for Christmas with your family?
Toula: Uh, my mom makes roast lamb.
Ian: Mmm...with mint jelly?
Toula: No.
[Long pause.]
Ian: And...?
Toula: And...
Toula: I'm Greek, right?
Ian: Right...?
Toula: So, what happens is my dad and uncles, they fight over who gets to eat the lamb brain. And then my aunt Voula forks the eyeball and chases me around with it, try to get me to eat it, 'cause it's gonna make me smart. So, you have two cousins, I have twenty-seven first cousins. Just twenty-seven first cousins alone! And my whole family is big and loud. And everybody is in each other's lives and business. All the time! Like, you never just have a minute alone, just to think! 'Cause we're always together, just eating, eating, eating! The only other people we know are Greeks, 'cause Greeks marry Greeks to breed more Greeks, to be loud breeding Greek eaters!
Ian: Wow.

[At the Greek Orthodox wedding.]
Harriet Miller: How are we supposed to know what's going on?
Rodney Miller: It's all Greek to me.

Toula: I woke up with this huge zit this morning.
Ian: Where?
Toula: [points to spot on face] There.
Ian: I had a huge zit this morning!
Toula: Really? Where?
Ian: [points to his face] Well, it was there, but it's gone now.
Toula: Why?
Ian: I put some Windex on it.

Toula: [voiceover] Sometimes, I am afraid that it didn't happen. I'm scared that I'll wake up and still be buttering garlic bread, waiting for my life to start. But it did happen, it did! And I figured out some stuff. My family is big and loud, but they're my family. We fight and we laugh, and yes, we roast lamb on a spit in the front yard. And wherever I go, whatever I do, they will always be there. [scene change to Toula, Ian, and their young daughter in the present day] So, Ian and I moved into the house my parents' bought us, a minute later I was pregnant, and six years later it was our daughter's turn to go to Greek School.
Daughter: But Mom, I wanna go to Brownies.
Toula: I know, I know, but I promise you this, you can marry whoever you want!


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