My Life in Ruins (2009)


Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss

I will say right off the bat that Reid would really not like this film. But if Larrilynn wants to see it, he should see it with her anyway, ’cause I think she’ll like it.

It is a nice, sweet, well-intentioned film. Vardalos is her usual charming, winning self, and there is just something about her that I think is wonderful for romantic comedies. She’s attractive but not HOT, smart but not sit-com clever, vulnerable but not helpless. You cannot help but like her character, even when it is forced to say and do some stupid things.

And that’s my biggest problem with the picture: The material is weak. At times, it’s quite stupid. People do and say things they just wouldn’t do or say in real life. On the other hand, the principals (Vardalos and Dreyfuss) are much stronger than their material; some of the best moments are when there’s no dialogue and the actors are allowed to inhabit a moment and respond. That they can rise above some of the ridiculous situations they’re put in is testament to their skill as actors.

Non-spoiler summary: Georgia (Vardalos) is a professor of Greek history but the job she had lined up in Greece has fallen through and for the past year she’s been a tour guide for a cut-rate tour group. Her customers don’t like her because she treats them like students in a history class; she’s not fond of them either because her boss gives her the less-desirable tourists (the obnoxious Americans, the drunk Australians, the fighting Brits, the flirty Spanish divorcees) and a bus with no air conditioner. She wants to help her tourists appreciate the rich history of the ancient ruins they visit, but they want cheap souvenirs and ice cream.

Irv (Dreyfuss) is the American senior tourist who thinks he’s funny but isn’t. He can see that Georgia has lost her kefi, or mojo, or life-energy. He gives her a little advice and, well it’s a romantic comedy and there’s this Greek-mythology-looking bus driver, so you can figure out the rest.

I erroneously thought Vardalos was to blame for this lousy script, but it’s a guy named Mike Reiss. You’d think that with Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson in her corner, they’d make sure she had (a) a good script and (b) a director who knows what to do with actors like Vardalos and Dreyfuss, but maybe the Illuminati interfered or something, ’cause the material is WEAK.

But you know what? You go into a movie like this WANTING to buy into it (or at least, I do; this is why I know Reid will hate it!) and Vardalos makes that easy, so despite its many flaws, I enjoyed myself and am glad I saw it.

I give it a biased 5/10 (4 is probably more like it).

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