Nia Vardalos instantly hit stardom from obscurity with her surprise smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and good for her; but must we suffer her continued celebrity with warmed-over moussaka like this? She returns to her winning, ugly-duck-becomes-swan formula here, now as a frumpy, displaced history teacher who settles for a crappy tour-guide gig, hauling clueless English-speaking sightseers through the fading splendors of Greece.
With its portrait of cranky, uninterested tourists, rowdy Aussies, fat Yanks, dingy hotels, shady merchants and busted buses, Ruins feels like somebody's personal vendetta against the travel industry. And it plays like an act of vengeance against quality cinema too; hokey gags, mawkish acting and positively hateful music plink behind each bad joke and sappy close-up.
Richard Dreyfuss hits a new career low as a crude but secretly wise widower who helps Nia get her groove back, pointing out the hunky bus driver sitting right beneath her sizable nose. Bored by the soggy material, Dreyfuss still manages flashes of greatness, which is more than such goofy hacks as Harland Williams and Rachel Dratch.
Drippy? Yeah. But no point getting fired up about such drivel; it's amiable, the scenery's nice, and it'll keep grandma amused. Let's hope it's not a huge hit and Vardalos can keep her princess fantasies confined to Lifetime movies.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].