My Life in Ruins
starring Nia Vardolos, Richard Dreyfuss, Alex Georgoulis and Alistair McGowan
written by Mike Reiss
directed by Donald Petrie
Nia Vardolos was the star (and writer) of the 2002 film My Big Fat Greek Wedding (directed by Joel Zwick), but My Life in Ruins is not a sequel. The only connection between the two is the Greek theme, but in the wedding film it was American Greek immigrant humor while in this new film it is authentic Greek geekiness that is being parodied. So the Japanese title “My Big Fat Dream” is egregious nonsense. But Japanese are like that. In My Life in Ruins Vardolos plays Georgia, an American classics professor unemployed in Greeceand temporarily working as a tourist bus guide. The title is a double entendre: her life among Greece’s ancient ruins, and her life simultaneously suffering employment and romantic ruin. Georgia publicly laments, “I haven’t had sex in, like, forever”unaware that all the Greeks around her speak English. But in this romantic comedy the latter woes find healing in the midst of the first. She falls in love with her bus driver, and her terrible job turns out okay.
In some ways My Life in Ruins reminded me of the 1969 Suzanne Pleshette, Ian McShane film If It’s Tuesday It Must Be Belgium (directed by Mel Stuart), which poked fun at the relatively small size of many European countries. (Interestingly, after just mentioning Ian McShane I saw him again, co-starring with Renee Zellweger in Case 39. What a coincidence!) My Life in Ruins endlessly pokes fun at Greek idiosyncrasies which, in light of the 2010 Greek economic crisis, more people in the world are currently doing. Both films document a group of random people on a week-long bus tour, being silly, seeing the sights, getting lost, suffering horrible hotels, eating, shopping, brief romantic attachments. Both films feature a shoplifting kleptomaniac tourist, a bickering couple, a self-styled funny man, a Lothario, etc. While the scenery in the Greek film is fantastic, the 1969 European film is better.