Fold a busload of stereotypes into a cliche romantic comedy formula, throw in a high-profile Hollywood star in need of a paycheck and a vacation, cook until it's just soft enough to tumble down the gullet sans dentures, and you've got My Life in Ruins, a benign, mushy gruel that tries desperately to maintain the sticky sweet consistency of My Big Fat Greek...read more
Fold a busload of stereotypes into a cliche romantic comedy formula, throw in a high-profile Hollywood star in need of a paycheck and a vacation, cook until it's just soft enough to tumble down the gullet sans dentures, and you've got My Life in Ruins, a benign, mushy gruel that tries desperately to maintain the sticky sweet consistency of My Big Fat Greek Wedding but ultimately ends up coasting on the "kefi" of that previous success.
Georgia (Nia Vardalos) came to Greece to follow a man. A few years later, she's been cast aside -- alone and adrift in a foreign land. Eventually, her passion for history leads her to a job as a tour guide. But Georgia is bored, and she's lost her kefi (Greek for "mojo") to boot. When taciturn sasquatch Poupi (Alexis Georgoulis) replaces the regular driver at the last minute, the frazzled tour guide thinks that her luck has just hit rock bottom. Thankfully, Georgia's latest batch of tourists are a more lively bunch than she's anticipated, and in between bouts with rival tour guide Nico (Alistair McGowan), she manages to form a genuine connection with wisecracking widower Irv (Richard Dreyfuss), a solo vacationer who maintains a jovial facade despite the fact that he misses his late wife dearly. With a little help from Irv, Georgia comes to realize that true love may be closer than she thinks -- if she could just recapture her kefi and open her eyes.
So can lightening really strike twice, or has Vardalos already milked her romantic Greek schtick for all it's worth? As a tour guide, Georgia rates as "average," as a movie star Vardalos rates much the same. Her toothy smile and cheery gaze have the same luster they did back in 2002, but much like the story here they feel hopelessly frozen in time. Photogenic and personable yet strangely uncharismatic, Vardalos may be a smart businesswoman, but she's certainly no innovator. My Life in Ruins is a meet-cute romance for the camera-touting tourist set: it's predictable, it's safe, and it feels like someone falling back on the familiar rather than taking risks and moving forward. Screenwriter Mike Reiss' credits include the pre-Daily Show news parody Not Necessarily the News, Sledge Hammer, It's Garry Shandling's Show, and The Simpsons, so one might hope that he could serve up a gently inspired, perhaps slightly absurd romantic comedy; instead we get a driver named Poupi Cacas and a leering Ian Gomez (Vardalos' real-life husband) sporting unkempt ear hair. If you're judging My Life in Ruins by how well it adheres to the romantic comedy formula, then get on the bus and prepare to smile; if you've already seen these sights and long for a vacation from the familiar, then consider, perhaps, canceling your reservations and booking a different trip.