June 05, 2009

My Life In Ruins

You wouldn't know a good movie until
it swam up and bit you on the ass!

Grade: D

Director: Donald Petrie

Starring: Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss, Alexis Georgoulis, Alistair McGowan, Harland Williams, and Rachel Dratch

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

While Nia Vardalos’ life might not be in ruins, her career nearly is. In her second attempt to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle that catapulted her 2002 sleeper smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding to worldwide fame, following the short-lived television series My Big Fat Greek Life, Vardalos takes a Big Fat Greek Vacation in My Life In Ruins.

While not officially a sequel, little changes from the Grecian formula of broad, episodic comedy grounded in wild ethnic stereotypes. Vardalos is Georgia, a chronically single, struggling Greek-American travel guide whose tour groups lack the pizzazz of her workplace counterparts. They get busloads of perfect Canadians (who knew they were at the top of the tour-group chain?); Georgia gets saddled with boozy Aussies, doddering Brits, saucy Spanish divorcees, and loutish Americans. Meanwhile the ingenious populous takes three forms: smoldering studs, dishonest street merchants, and lascivious men who sit around all day watching Zorba the Greek.

Georgia gets her group and groove back only once she follows the advice of pervy windbag Irv (Richard Dreyfuss, the only actor barely able to spare his dignity) to let her hair down, her neckline open, and spice up her travelogues with sexual innuendo. She stops all that boring history stuff (what other reason does one take a bus-tour through Greece?) to make time for her tacky travelers to shop and eat lots of ice cream. Oh, and in the case of a rich, pouty girl (Sophie Stuckey), the cure for a bad case of teen rebellion turns out to be the beach, an iPod, and the affections of a 16-year-old Greek hunk-in-training.

Somehow, director Donald Petrie (look up his filmography online…you’ll see) makes even historic, iconic locales look drab and uninteresting. And, tossed in for good measure is a surfeit of gags revolving around Viagra and predatory gays. My Life In Ruins has all the joy of being trapped on a bus full of annoying tourists…literally. It is more fitting than funny that Georgia’s driver and eventual love interest is named Poupi Kakas (Alexis Georgoulis), because this ruinous rubbish is full of it.

Neil Morris

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