My Life in Ruins (2009)
★★ / ★★★★
I loved Nia Vardalos in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” so I was excited to watch this movie even though the critics disparaged it without remorse. There’s something about her that I love watching on screen–a certain look or attitude that never fails to make me smile. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at all impressed with this film because it offered nothing new. In fact, it relied upon the usual stereotypes regarding tourists: the rude Americans, the cute old people with idiosyncracies, the rich couple who was emotionally detached from their child and vice-versa and others I wouldn’t even go into. Vardalos played a travel guide who wanted to do something more with her life but she couldn’t quite leave Greece because she seemed to get nothing but rejection letters from the universities she applied to. She didn’t like being a travel guide but decided to stick with it anyway because of the money. Her dislike for her job was reflected in her very analytical way of interacting with the colorful tourists. Eventually, however, she learned to open up and let her hair down. I wish that this movie was edgier. I liked the fact that it had colorful tourists but they didn’t have to be so annoying, especially the Americans. Americans are annoying–we get it. There’s no need to keep hammering it into our heads. By getting rid of the clichés, the picture would’ve looked smarter and more self-aware and wouldn’t have felt so lazy in its writing. I liked the tender moments between Vardalos and Richard Dreyfuss, a man who was still grieving upon the death of his wife. The insight that he offered to her were believable enough for me to think that that, yes, Vardalos was able to take and process it all then evaluate what was going on with her life and eventually find a way to fix it. But those scenes lost their power because there were far too many scenes when the tourists were being shown as dumb; it was supposed to be funny–which it was once or twice–but I quickly got tired of it because I wanted to see something new. As for the romantic angle between Vardalos and Alexis Georgoulis, I didn’t buy it for one second because they lacked chemistry. Either that or the film wasn’t just developed enough for me to finally go along with it once it happened. I say skip this film if you have better things to do. Otherwise, it’s just another average movie with interesting sceneries but ultimately has an empty emotional core.