My Life in Ruins
WHAT IT'S ABOUT?
Georgia's love life and career have hit a wall in America, so she takes a trip to her ancestral home of Greece and gets a job as a tour guide on a rickety bus in Athens. Her insistence on spouting off endless historical facts tends to bore the tourists, however, and she becomes the least-popular guide and the target of a ruthless competitor. But as she navigates her way through the ruins of the country and her own life, she manages to find new friends, a new outlook and romance where she least expected it.
WHO'S IN IT?
It seemed only natural after the blockbuster success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding (still the most profitable romantic comedy of all time) that its star, Nia Vardalos, would attempt a sequel. But after a failed attempt at a sitcom, My Life in Ruins is about as close as she's going to come. As Georgia, a no-nonsense tour guide whose life is slowly transformed by the wonders of Greece, Vardalos is right at home. She's attractive, likeable and could probably do this role in her sleep. As her unkempt bus driver who turns from a frog into a prince, Alexis Georgoulis is the epitome of Greek geek. Getting the pole tourist position as Irv, Richard Dreyfuss is warm and corny as a bad-joke-telling widower. The rest of the bus is intentionally paired off into various two-note stereotypes. Take your pick. There are obnoxious Americans (Harland Williams and Rachel Dratch), obnoxious Australians (Simon Gleeson and Natalie O'Donnell), obnoxious Brits (Ian Ogilvy and Caroline Goodall) with an obnoxious daughter (Sophie Stuckey), oversexed Spanish divorcees (Maria Botto and Maria Adanez), an old lady who steals stuff (Sheila Bernette) and a business guy who can't stop texting (Brian Palermo). As Georgia's scheming rival tour guide, Alistair McGowan also plays it just the way we expect. No surprises with this group.
Despite the unimaginative, sitcom-ish screenplay and Donald Petrie's uninspired direction, My Life in Ruins has two things going for it: Vardalos and Greece. Her fans will probably flock to the theater, and once there, they will be treated to a gorgeously-photographed tour of some of the country's most spectacular sights including the rarely filmed (at least in mainstream movies) Acropolis.
Unfortunately, the filmmakers rely all too heavily on the glories of Greece to get by. Perhaps with more effort there might have been a MOVIE to match. Sticking a bunch of stereotypes on a bus and hoping for nonstop hilarity just doesn't cut it. Those looking for pure escapist fluff will probably have a good time watching My Life in Ruins, but they'll find more genuine laughs in a Greek tragedy.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
If the bad economy is cutting summer vacation plans, and you need a sightseeing fix, a trip to the mall to see this big fat Greek tourism informercial might be just the ticket. For everyone else, just hit the beach instead.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.