"My Life in Ruins" is no holiday from the rom-com blues
Nia Vardalos, the regular-gal heroine of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," can't save "My Life in Ruins" from dullness and predictability. Review by Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald.
Seattle Times movie critic
"My Life in Ruins," with Nia Vardalos, Alexis Georgoulis, Richard Dreyfuss, Rachel Dratch. Directed by Donald Petrie, from a screenplay by Mike Reiss. 98 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual content. Several theaters.
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Nia Vardalos, best known for the megahit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," is a performer of great warmth and regular-gal charm; her screen persona is that of a wry yet sweet best friend who's always good for a bit of gossip and a giggle. Yet even she — along with a boatload of postcard-pretty views of Greece — can't save Donald Petrie's "My Life In Ruins," a romantic comedy that bathes in clichés before rinsing off with sentimentality and spritzing itself with lame jokes. The result is, alas, a bit whiffy.
Smiling gamely even as she delivers some remarkably clunky dialogue, Vardalos plays Georgia, a Greek-American woman who works as a tour guide in Greece while seeking a better job in academia. The tourists generally don't like her — she emphasizes history and culture over beaches and shopping — and her romantic life is nothing to write home about. Over the course of the movie, she leads a weeklong bus tour filled with tacky Americans, rowdy Australians, uptight Brits and amorous Spaniards, all of whom have become Better People (though still tacky, rowdy, uptight and amorous, respectively) by movie's end. She also finds love, in the form of the hairy but cute bus driver (Alexis Georgoulis), who's gradually sheared as the week progresses. His name is a punch line: Poupi. All of this unfolds with utter predictability, very few laughs and a lot of random "Zorba" dancing.
Somewhere, out there in Hollywood or elsewhere, is someone who can lead romantic comedy out of its current slump. (Hint: Marc Webb, who made the upcoming anti-rom-com "(500) Days of Summer," is on the right track.) Someone, somewhere, must be working on a screenplay in which two people fall in love in a way that's genuinely witty and charming, and in which nobody behaves like a blithering idiot, and in which the supporting characters are recognizable human beings rather than one-note stereotypes. "My Life in Ruins" isn't the worst rom-com of recent years (please don't even ask me to enumerate the contenders), but come on — is this indifferent effort the best Hollywood can do? I'm waiting. Still.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.