We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

There are big fat Greek stereotypes in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. And if you’re the kind of bleeding heart who writes angry letters about The Sopranos or uses the word “womyn,” you’ll probably gasp through much of the movie. But don’t worry about disturbing the other moviegoers, because they’ll be laughing their ethnic asses off. The portrayals of each member of the never-ending Portokalos family are undoubtedly extreme, but they’ll be familiar enough to anyone whose parents keep ties to both their culture and their children tight: the dad (Michael Constantine) who balks at his 30-year-old daughter’s request to go to college because “there are drugs downtown,” the aunt (Andrea Martin) who wonders behind her niece’s back whether she’ll ever get married, and, of course, the mother (Lainie Kazan) who’s always pressuring her brood to eat. Suffocating under her family’s expectations to marry soon and marry Greek is mousy Toula (Nia Vardalos, who also wrote the sketchlike script), who’s tired of working day after day in her father’s restaurant and sitting night after night between the folks on their plastic-covered sofa. Toula finally gets the courage to take a few computing classes and persuades her aunt to give her a job at her travel agency. Soon enough, off come the glasses, on goes the new wardrobe, and Toula is never seen without lipstick again. Of course, this predictable turn of events should sink the movie, but Vardalos infuses the new Toula with such ebullience about both her fashionable new look and newfound competence that it’s hard not to be happy for her—though you might feel like issuing a warning that John Corbett, the first man to make eyes at her, isn’t all that. Corbett’s Ian is a slightly less weaselly version of the love interests he’s played in Serendipity and Sex and the City, and, as ever, it’s hard to understand his appeal. (Greek Wedding is worth seeing just to hear what Toula’s father has to say about Corbett’s hair.) This bit of casting aside, the movie’s biggest misfire is the portrayal of Ian’s upper-middle-class parents as easily intimated naifs: It’s difficult to believe that a well-off couple living in Chicago would look at a family of another background as if it were alien. (But then again, they are supposed to be Corbett’s parents.) Sure, My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s characterizations and values hark back to another decade, but when an antiquated setup shows your modern eyes what familial love and respect used to mean, is that such a bad thing? —Tricia Olszewski