By Matt Brunson
MY LIFE IN RUINS
DIRECTED BY Donald Petrie
STARS Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss
Nia Vardalos enjoyed a box office bonanza with the sleeper smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but her latest picture, My Life in Ruins, stands no chance of enjoying a similar fate. It's merely one big fat Greek disaster, and it instantly vies with The Informers as the worst picture I've seen thus far this year as we dash toward the halfway mark in the 2009 movie calendar.
Vardalos is a charming actress of limited range, and her presence is the only thing tolerable in a movie that's torturous in virtually every other regard. She stars as Georgia, a brainy tour guide who's upset that her latest group consists of nothing but obnoxious louts who would rather lay on the beach and buy tacky souvenirs than listen to her pontificate about magnificent Grecian ruins. That every single tourist in a group designed to explore Greece would be shocked that their guide would actually expect them to, well, explore Greece is only the first of many absurdities found in Mike Reiss' toxic script.
The dimwitted tourists themselves are exactly what we'd expect: the loud American couple, the IHOP manager who thinks the ancient columns look like stacks of pancakes, the hot-to-trot Spanish divorcees, the snobbish Brits, etc. Reiss makes them far more stupid than is necessary, with the low point being when a boorish Yank (Harland Williams), while playing golf among the ruins, comments, "I wonder if Jesus ever played here?" Richard Dreyfuss' character, a Jewish widower, is supposed to function as the piece's heart, but even he gets relegated to serving as the punchline for a Viagra gag.
This is also the sort of movie in which a character watches TV and the movie being shown is, of course, Zorba the Greek. Because, you know, Greeks don't watch any films besides that one.
Georgia eventually loosens up and even finds romance with the hunky tour bus driver (Alexis Georgoulis), yet don't expect this relationship to be treated with any more dignity than anything else in the picture. His name? Poupi Kakas. And his nephew's name? Doudi Kakas.
Please don't make me continue; it's just too painful.