In 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding, protagonist Toula’s father is obsessed with Windex as the cure to everything. A rash? Poison ivy? A swollen toe? Put some Windex on it, and it will magically sort your ailment out. The third film in the franchise, which bears very little resemblance to that endlessly quotable, sleeper-hit romcom, would have done well to heed his advice.
A distinct lack of the original film’s charm plagues the latest entry, which joins the Portokalos family on a long-awaited vacation to the Greek island where Toula’s now-departed dad grew up. The hope is to reunite his journal with his childhood friends at a big celebration, full of souvlaki, ouzo, and “Opa!”s. But when the family arrives in a crumbling village, it must instead work out how to salvage the day - and organise a wedding too, naturally.
Shifting the action from the Chicago setting of the previous films is a welcome change you’d hope would breathe some new life into the franchise. But aside from a few gorgeous shots that will have you dreaming of the Aegean, writer/director/star Nia Vardalos’ meandering plot is packed with too many flat jokes and too much stilted dialogue to allow any time to relax into the sun-soaked setting.
Not much care is taken either in developing the myriad side-plots, including an awkward romance between Toula and Ian’s (John Corbett) daughter (Elena Kampouris) and her college friend (Elias Kacavas) that doesn't earn its inevitable happy ending. Meanwhile, other arcs feel rushed, relying too heavily on predictable tropes and painfully on-the-nose callbacks to the first two films.
Vardalos does her best with her scenes as Toula, bringing some much-needed charm and emotional depth, while laughs are mostly driven by Andrea Martin’s Aunt Voula, who aptly introduces herself early on as "your favourite". But neither can save My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 from feeling like a pale imitation of what’s come before.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is in cinemas on September 8.