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“No big, fat, Greek surprises here”

_ My Life in Ruins _

Title: My Life in Ruins

There are so many possible tag lines for the new romantic comedy, My Life in Ruins. The first one that came to my mind was “My big fat Greek tour”. Considering it is set in Greece and marks the big screen return of the much loved Nia Vardalos from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Also like MBFGW it is backed by executive producers Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson but this time around under the direction of Miss Congeniality’s, Donald Petrie. But do not be confused. This one has nothing to do with the other. It is not a sequel, follow-up (though Nia is back in the travel industry), spin off or copycat. It is just another comedy; or an attempt at such.

Georgia (Nia Vardalos) is a teacher between jobs who has been working as a travel guide for a Greek tours company. At odds with her boss she always ends up with the rag tag tourists that the other guides try to avoid; the obnoxious (Rachel Dratch), grumbling (Richard Dreyfuss), drunken sort that make any group outing a nightmare. While Georgia tries to teach them the beauty and culture of Greece they are only concerned with souvenirs and air conditioning. To make matters worse her latest 4 day tour includes a hunky bus driver (Alexis Georgoulis) that she tries her best not to be attracted to. Little does she know but he is just what she needs. Big fat surprise huh? There is not much groundbreaking creativity in this outing to say the least.

The adventure started out slow and as much as I wanted to like it I found it hard to even laugh a little at the jokes and delivery. The premise of the characters was doable but the writing was sloppy and badly directed. The actors seemed to have a hard time finding their groove the first half of the film. That said the last half nearly saves the day. Nearly. It was at least better. The heart of this movie is the bond of the people on the tour once they start seeing the positives in each other. The need to look outside their own creature comforts and instead embrace the fun around them is a lesson to us all about community and friendship. That aspect brought some depth and heart to this film but sadly not enough to make it monumental.

My Life in Ruins is rated PG-13 for sexual content. I discovered it to be totally safe, though not much fun, for those 13 and over. Most of the typical romantic comedy elements are here and nothing is shocking or offensive. Those who can find good in any film in this genre (which I usually can) may find their journey to the theater worth the effort. Most others will find this a perfect renter or Saturday afternoon HBO film to crash on the couch and watch. In fact it might work great for just that purpose. That film you flip by on TV and stop and watch with no need for back story or attention span. But with today’s movie prices it doesn’t quite deliver the big screen goods. I give it 2 out of 5 ice cream stains. I truly adore Nia Vardalos and was hoping for more. Other than picturesque scenes of Greece, there is not much here to book.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com) (6/01/09)

(2 out of 5)

Review copyright 2009 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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