My Life in Ruins

My Life in Ruins movie poster
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy
A travel guide rediscovers her romantic side on a trip around Greece.
Starring: Nia Vardalos, Rachel Dratch, Richard Dreyfuss, Harland Williams
Director: Donald Petrie
Running time: 1:38

Editorial Review

How do you squeeze out a 16th minute of fame when the first 15 were predicated entirely on an ethnic joke? That is the dilemma that has trailed Nia Vardalos since her persnickety valentine to Greek American family life, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," racked up $241 million in stateside grosses and garnered a screenplay Oscar nomination for its eminently likable star.

And so we have "My Life in Ruins," a brash and trashy romantic comedy that makes that last film look like an exercise in restraint. In fashioning a comeback for Vardalos, writer Mike Reiss has cribbed much from her "Greek Wedding" playbook. As before, Vardalos latest character confides her romantic frustrations in narrative voice-overs that invite us to pull up a chair. And she is back in the travel business, albeit reluctantly.

A classical history professor left high and dry by Athens University cutbacks, Vardalos's Georgia finds herself scraping together a living in Greece as a guide for a tour operation. Georgia gets low ratings from her clients and her boss, Maria, who resembles a bordello madame fallen on hard times. In an effort to get Georgia to quit, Maria saddles her with an unventilated bus, fleabag-hotel bookings and a global army of tourists recruited from the seventh circle of Hell.

Georgia has two white knights lurking in plain sight: her sullen bus driver, Poupi (Alexis Georgoulis), whose shabby, Neanderthal guise conceals a GQ model with a poetic soul, and Irv (Richard Dreyfuss), a garrulous American tourist with a big heart.

Reiss's script owes much to bottom-tier National Lampoon vacation movies, assuming as it does that all group tourists are either crooks, pigs or idiots and that the audience for comedy can never tire of the scatological and the homophobic jest.

Fittingly, "My Life in Ruins" goes downhill after its title.

-- Jan Stuart (June 5, 2009)

Contains sexual content.