My Life in Ruins (2009)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V- 1; L- 1; S/N -3. Running time: 1 hour 35 min.

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will
put within you; and I will remove from your body
the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

Athens tour guide Georgia speaks to her passengers.

2009 Fox Searchlight Pictures

Compared to her first film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos’s third film might well be called “My Movie in Ruins.” Her first film, which she wrote, was fresh and breezy, whereas this one, written by Mike Reiss, invokes about every plot cliché and stereotyped character imaginable. Vardalos plays Georgia, an American would-be college professor living in Athens whose plans have not worked out, so that she is forced to work as a tour guide for a third-rate company that always gives her a wheezy old bus and books the tourists in flea-bag hotels. Her bus driver, named Poupi (yes, it does sound like you know what) at first looks like Rasputin, but when he, attracted to Georgia, shaves his beard, he becomes an Adonis, especially when he doffs his shirt.

The tourists are an unruly collection of characters who would rather shop for cheap souvenirs than listen to Georgia lecture on the beautiful sites she conducts them to. Chief among them is wise-cracking Irv (Richard Dreyfus) who also proves to be a wise old romantic. Guess what happens by the end of this limp tale? Best thing about it is the usurpation of the music from and the transformation theme of Zorba the Greek. Wait till it comes to a cheap seats theater or to DVD before spending money on this.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. What is missing from Georgia’s life—other than the usual Hollywood answer of “a man” ?

2. What does Irv bring to her? How does this help change her outlook on the motley crew of tourists she shepherds?

3. In Zorba the old Greek tells his young friend that he needs “a touch of madness,” that the super-sober young man needs “to cut the rope, and dance.” How is this depicted in this move? How is this good advice (at times) for all of us?