My Life in Ruins

by Rick Grant
Grade: C- / PG-13 / 96 min
Nia Vardalos is back from obscurity after her 2002 hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding made $350 million, making her a wealthy woman. Then, she tried to spin off that success with a TV show which bombed. Now, Vardalos, who lost so much weight she looks like a different person from her old chubby image, is making another bid for big screen success in this fluff piece, My Life in Ruins.
Here’s the pitch: 40 something ancient history teacher, Georgia (Vardalos) loses her job and kefi, (loosely translated her mojo or spirit). She moves to Greece and takes a job as a tour guide, for which she is ill-suited. To her, the job is temporary while she tries to regain her once positive attitude, get a new teaching job, and get her groove back.
Trampled by one too many bad romances, Georgia is uptight and cynical over the past. She finds the tourists obnoxious-dumb Americans, drunk Australians, and elderly Brits– but she puts on a fake persona. Of course, the tourists see right through it, and would rather go shopping than listen to her dry history lesson.
Plagued by bad performance reports from the tourists, Georgia gets the old bus with the broken air-conditioning and her rival Nico gets the new bus and better performance reports. Still, she hangs in there because she needs the money. Her driver is named Poupi (like Poopie) played deftly by Alexi Georgoulis, and has a full beard and long hair. Of course, when he shaves and cuts his hair he’s wildly handsome. And, viewers know where this is going. Please, no more potty jokes.
Under the pretense that to perk up Georgia, the old sexist saying “she needs to get laid” seems to apply. But Georgia is not very desirable in her present negative state of mind. But boy, she notices Poopi is an Adonis. However, she hooks up with an American who talks incessantly. He’s a boring advance man for the International House of Pancakes. Later at a bar, he talks her to sleep with his banal banter.
Richard Dreyfus plays Irv, a late-60s guy who is still grieving from the loss of his wife. He’s an amateur comedian and a bore on the bus. But, he is wise, and he tells Georgia her dream guy is waiting for her in the driver’ seat of the bus. But, it takes Georgia a while to realize that Poopi could be the Mr. Convenient.
Directed by Daniel Petrie (Miss Congeniality) and written by Michelle Chyzik Sowa, the script follows the old formulaic travelogue romance theme. But the first half of the movie is slow and boring. However, when Georgia perks up and adds sexy segments to her bus monologue, the pacing and dialogue begins to be interesting and sometimes funny.
The travelogue of Greece is at least interesting but many of the scenes were shot in Spain. Go figure! The Geeks are portrayed as stereotypes–oversexed creepy unshaven men who swindle tourists. Much of the film’s faults can be blamed on Vardalos who never really captured the role of Georgia. Her acting is awkward and stiff-without verve, or mojo for that matter.
If viewers go to see this film hoping its like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, they will be disapointed. The movie’s flaws are too blatant to save it from itself. Vardalos really blew it in this lame film. And, the clincher to this tanker, Georgia’s romance with Poopi didn’t have any fireworks. She should have been screaming like a banshee. Let’s say Poopi and Georgia’s in and out fizzled out, like the entire movie.