As Greek Wedding dragged on, I noticed something: Paige regularly laughed. Not deep, hearty laughs, but soft, harmless nostril laughs. I decided to mark chicken scratches to log the number of times she laughed.
When Toula meets her Prince Charming, Paige's laugh-periodicity increased. It wasn't Paige's laugh that bothered me -- it was Prince Charming. In his character the movie crossed from harmless sitcom formula into outright Goebbels lies. Tuolo's man, "Ian," is tall, with long dark swept-back hair, a pronounced chin, long face and sensitive Travolta-like eyes. He's a junior high school teacher and a vegetarian, yet he comes from a wealthy family of lawyers and country club members. That is, sensitive yet aristocratic, every woman's dream.
At one point, Toula is forced, for the plot's sake, to ask him why he loves her. "Because I came alive when I met you," he says.
Alive? He behaves like her servant! He never has any conflicts within himself. All he does is hug her and comfort her. Do women really want that? I mean, I know American women say they do, but when confronted with the choice, they always reject it, even when desperate and alone.
Ah! The lies! That's the part I can't handle! Reality: to American women, a man who teaches in a public middle school is a L-O-S-E-R. Plain and simple! That must be why the movie makers had Ian driving Toula around in a brand new silver Jeep Grand Cherokee with a big front grill. Because if he drove what a public school teacher in America really drives -- a beat-up Hyundai with broken tail light -- and if he had the cringing mannerisms of all male public school teachers -- this movie wouldn't have been the hit that it was. It might actually have been interesting, but not a hit.
Other problems. The Greek accents seem wrong. Even if they were real Greeks, they sounded exactly like Steve Martin's wild and crazy Czech swingers.
Toula's beauty transformation from dumpy, creased spinster into someone you'd mercy fuck on a drunken Wednesday evening was accomplished with far too much ease -- all she did was perm her hair, apply blush and upgrade her clothes... and the next thing you know, a table full of sorority girls happily invites her to sit with them.
Not Another Teen Movie, one of the great unheralded films of the year, already parodied the effortless Pygmalion transformation by having its heroine transformed from ugly weirdo into raging beauty by simply undoing her ponytail and pulling off her glasses.
There should be a law against ignoring successful parodies. Punishable by burning all prints. Which almost happened to us, just as Ian was leaning over to kiss Toula. The movie stopped. One of those orange burning holes developed.
And then, regrettably, the problem was fixed.
It gets worse. The father, that bigoted ass, does his best to keep his thirty-year-old daughter from getting a life, trying to bar her first from going to college, and then from marrying the man of her dreams. In my notes, I wrote: "He's old. Why doesn't she take meat cleaver and club his head? Or poison him? Hell, hire Turk to bump him -- would do it for free!" Instead of poisoning the father, however, the mother explains to Toula how easy it is for a woman to manipulate the man of the house. All you have to do is let him think he's in charge and that he makes the decisions on his own, which you can easily manipulate, and voila, the sucker does your bidding. It was painful to watch, pure slave humor. But the crowd liked it.
By the end of the film, I'd tallied 28 laughs for Paige and five for me. She also cried once -- when the cheap, bigoted father gives his daughter the deed to a house for her wedding gift -- a house which winds up being next door. Wait, oops! Did I just fuck up the ending? Uh-oh, sorry.
After the film, I asked Paige how she liked it. "I liked it, it was pretty good," she said. "It was funny."
"But what about the boyfriend? No woman in America likes public school teachers. That's why they had to make him from a rich family."