Australian Council on Children and the Media

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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Short takes

Under 8s may be bored, PG to 13 (Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  • a review of My Big Fat Greek Wedding completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 January 2003.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Children under 8 may be bored
Children 8 - 13 Parental guidance recommended to thirteen due to themes
Children over 13 Children in this age group should be okay to watch this movie

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence
Length 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This is a story about Toula Portokalos, a 30 year old second generation Greek woman who is caught between being a Greek woman and wanting to be her own person. She is faced with the family pressure to marry a Greek boy, have Greek babies, and feed everyone. Toula decides that she wants more out of life and convinces her family that it would be in their best interest to support her going to College to study computing. Toula’s mum is supportive of the idea but her father is not to keen on the whole idea. Toula begins College where she blossoms; she changes her image and becomes a happier person. She starts to be the woman that she wants.

Toula falls in love with Ian who is not Greek. She initially lies to her parents, knowing that they would not approve of the relationship. When the relationship starts to become serious so does the situation at home as her family find out she is seeing Ian. Her father is devastated and can’t believe that she is doing this to him. She is told to stop seeing him, and her parents begin to invite a lot of single Greek men around for dinner. Toula continues to see Ian despite her parent’s demands, but she can no longer hide the seriousness of the relationship from her family when Ian proposes to her and she accepts. Gus is still not happy about the situation, and Ian does everything he can to be accepted by her family. He is baptised in the Greek church by cousin Nikki so they can be married in the Greek church. There is continuing concern expressed about Ian by Gus through out the movie as the wedding is planned, planned by everyone but Toula and Ian themselves.

The wedding day comes and everyone is happy. The movie ends on a nice message when Gus gives his father of the bride speech, finally giving his acceptance that we are all different but the same.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

  • Toula’s Yaya (Grandmother) slaps Toula’s father (Gus) across the face when she first arrives in the family home after being brought from Greece to live with the family. She verbally abuses Gus about being a Turk and runs out of the house.
  • Ian is trying to impress Toula out the front of her aunt’s travel agency when he accidentally bumps into an old lady and falls to the ground. The old lady beings to hit Ian with her hand bag a number of times while he is on the ground.
  • When celebrating Greek Easter at the family restaurant, and the engagement of Toula and Ian Nick verbally threatens Ian saying that “He will get him if he hurts Toula”. He then says it was a joke. He then says “I’ll kill you, I’ve got a gun and I’ll stick it up your…..” He says he was joking again. Nick then yells out to a male cousin who also replies with “I’m going to kill you”. Joking again.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There is not much in this movie that will scare children. However, the following scenes may disturb some:

  • An uncle brings a full dead skinned lamb to the Portokalos family home to be put on the spit to be cooked as part of the celebrations of Ian’s mother and father coming to visit for the first time.
  • When Nick is jokingly threatening Ian at the Greek Easter celebrations. (see under violence) Young children may not understand this kind of joking around.
  • When Aunt Voula tells of her story about having a lump in her neck which grows and grows. When she finally goes to the Doctor and they check it out they discover a set of teeth and a spinal cord - her dead twin sister.
  • Scene in the family home kitchen where Nick is playing with his nephews ‘wrestling’. Toula’s mum (Maria) tells the boys to leave Nick alone and then proceeds to ‘spit’ on her nephews for good luck and to keep the devil away.
  • In the Easter celebration scene at restaurant, some young people may see Nick’s threats to Ian as being real even though he proclaims to be joking.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing in this movie should disturb children over 13.

Sexual references

Toula and Ian are lying in bed, presumably after ‘making love’, talking. Ian proposes to Toula and they begin hugging and kissing in bed.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • As Toula’s and Ian’s relationship progresses there are some scenes that involve kissing between the two. In particular there is a section of the film that shows the ending of a number of dates which involves Ian dropping Toula off in her street, and the two kissing each other goodnight. Each time she is dropped off the kissing and touching becomes more passionate.
  • Toula’s cousin Nikki wears a lot of tops in the movie that are very revealing of her cleavage. One scene shows her adjusting her breasts to show more cleavage.
  • Toula’s Bridesmaid dresses show a lot of cleavage near the end of the movie.
  • When getting ready for the wedding some of the bridesmaids are in their underwear. This is not out of context as it is all about getting ready for the wedding.

Use of substances

  • Toula’s parents are in the bedroom discussing Toula going to College to study computing. Gus makes reference to Toula getting into drugs if she leaves him and goes down town to study.
  • When Gus and Maria put on a party to celebrate meeting Ian’s parents for the first time Ian’s parents are given a lot of ouzo to drink, and end up getting drunk.
  • Lot’s of alcohol and drinking implied at Toula’s and Ian’s wedding.
  • Drinking Ouzo portrayed as a big part of Greek culture in the movie.

Coarse language

  • In a scene near the beginning of the movie Aunt Voula’s adult children are arguing at Dancing Zorba’s (family restaurant). Nikki makes reference to her brothers “Big ass girlfriend” and tells him to “Bite me!”
  • Toula and Ian are sitting on the floor of her Aunt’s Travel agency , after he has been bashed by the old lady out the front, and they make reference to Ian receiving “An old lady ass kicking” Ian comments with the use of the word “Jesus”.
  • Toula’s brother Nick is wrestling with his three nephews who are all clinging on to him as he walk into the family kitchen. Maria tells the boys off and says “No punching Theo Nicholas in the nads”.   
  • On two occasions Toula’s brother Nick is joking around with Ian teaching him how to say things in Greek. Instead of telling him the correct pronunciation he teaches Ian ‘rude’ things to say. For example, instead of saying ‘Thank you’ Ian is taught  how to say “Nice boobs” to Maria and instead of asking everyone in to the house he announces  “I have 3 testicles”

In a nutshell

The movie presents a view of the world of traditional Greek culture, the loudness, the food, the guilt, the negativity, and the strong family values.

Values that parents may wish to encourage include:

  • importance of family and the strength of family bonds
  • love
  • respect and tolerance of differences shown by Ian and Toula.
  • acceptance of differences. Gus finally tells a story about Apples and Oranges at the end of the movie, showing that he accepts Ian into the family.
  • Unfortunately even though this movie is a comedy it does present with a number of issues which parents may want to discuss with their children. For example:
  • Toula’s lying to her parents about seeing Ian. She tells them she is going to pottery classes.
  • Toula is made to feel like she has to keep secrets from her family
  • Toula’s father Gus makes reference on a number of occasions about there being no need to educate girls when talking about Toula.
  • Women should get married, have babies, and feed everyone. This is their lot in life.
  • Toula’s parents use a lot of ‘guilt tripping’ and manipulation to get what they want.
  • Through out the movie family members appear to be always arguing with each other as a way of relating to each other giving the impression that it is ok to talk to each other like this.
  • It’s ok to trick people into things. Maria and Voula deliberately trick Gus into letting Toula work in her Aunt’s Travel Agency instead of being honest and straight forward about it.
  • Toula lives in fear of not pleasing her parents, and is made to feel like she has to lie to them to keep them happy. There is pressure on her to do the right thing by her parents, even if it is not doing right by herself.
  • Stereotyping of Greek people. Only some Greek people choose to live this way.
  • Toula’s father always making reference to Greeks being superior.
  • People not listening to each other properly, and forcing own beliefs on others. Eg. Maria making Ian eat, even though he didn’t want to.
  • Lack of tolerance and understanding shown for different cultures. Toula’s family of Ian not being a Greek boy, and Ian’s family of Toula because she was Greek.
  • Toula has no control over her wedding, her family takes over and she has no say in it. Toula does not stand up for herself. 
  • Windex does not heal wounds. Through out the movie Gus sprays peoples wounds with Windex in the belief that it is a healing agent.

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