Is Nia Vardalos the new Barbra Streisand? At least three times in My Life in Ruins, the characters around her tell her she’s pretty or skinny. Her obvious low self-esteem sinks this unromantic uncomedy, about a bitchy American who’s a travel guide in Greece.
Nia, once the pleasingly plump star of the delightful 2002 smash hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, plays Giorgia, a bitter (obviously hungry) singleton who is looking for her Kefi, which means she needs to get her Grecian groove back. She hates her job, because she’s a snooty scholar who wants to teach the tourists about the ancient ruins, but all they want to do is buy cheap tchotchkes and eat ice cream.
On this trip, she’s got a bus-load of “crazy” (aka cliché) characters around her, including the sexy and mysterious driver Poupi (Alexis Georgoulis), some ugly and fat Americans (Rachel Dratch and Jareb Dauplaise), boozy Australians, sexy Spanish divorcees, an uptight English family, and wise old Irv (Richard Dreyfuss), who turns out to be a horny widower. Ew, that’s gross. They all hate Giorgia, with good reason, because she’s a frigid Debbie Downer — but for some reason they still help her find her mojo again.
Giorgia is so nasty to her customers for the first two-thirds of the movie, you want them to stage a mutiny and throw her off the bus. (BTW, Greece is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with some of the most scenic backdrops you could ask for, yet most of the scenes take place inside the ugly bus or in crappy hotels.) Poupi, who looks like he’s wearing a bad wig, is supposed to be Giorgia’s love interest, but they have absolutely no chemistry.
Rachel Dratch’s comedy skills are completely wasted in this unfunny script and Richard Dreyfuss looks beyond embarrassed to be in the movie. He should be. My Life in Ruins is so predictable and humorless, you’ll wish you had a bottle of ouzo to get through it.
(Photo: Teresa Isasi/26Films Productions/KanZaman Productions/Fox Searchlight)