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My Life in Ruins (A Movie Review)

Updated: Sep 7, 2023


Starring Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss, Alexis Georgoulis, Alistair McGowan, Harland Williams, Rachel Dratch, Caroline Goodall and Ian Ogilvy.

Screenplay by Mike Reiss.

Directed by Donald Petrie.

Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures. 98 minutes. Rated PG-13.

If I’m being completely honest, I kind of hated Nia Vardalos’ breakout comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I never understood why it became such a surprise success.

Therefore, I was rather skittish going into My Life in Ruins – which simply seemed like a rewrite of that movie, just relocated to Greece.

Truth is My Life in Ruins is a pretty awful movie. Its jokes are overly obvious, its characters are stereotypes, and it is terribly manipulative.

Yet, I enjoyed it much more than I did its more celebrated predecessor.

Go figure.

This can’t all be chalked up to the absolutely spectacular scenery surrounding the clichéd characters throughout the film – although the surroundings are endlessly fascinating.

It’s not because there is a great supporting cast. Five words: Rachel Dratch and Harlan Williams. In fact, the only true serious actor here – Richard Dreyfuss – pretty much hits rock bottom in his career as an annoying jokester widower who helps to get our heroine to embrace life.

Yet, somehow, My Life in Ruins reeled me in. Well, a little.

Vardalos plays Georgia, a US citizen who moved to Greece to take a job as a Professor. She lost the position soon after she arrived and ends up as a tour guide for a cheesy local company. She is unhappy with her job, she is unhappy with her love life, but she loves the Greek Islands.

The film covers a single bus tour in which Georgia is assigned a rogues gallery of loser types – an ugly American couple, a barely intelligible Aussie couple, an elderly British couple (he with a walker, she with a kleptomania problem), two hot Spanish divorcees, a goofy American kid, a work-obsessed US businessman, an angry English couple with their mopey teen daughter and the joking widower.

The bus driver is a bearded, dirty, silent man – but you just know that when you get him washed up and shaved, he will be a Greek God.

Georgia wants to give the tourists a real education on Greek architecture, but she finds that she can’t connect to any of them. They are all more interested in a shallow Eurotrash rival tour guide, who takes his people shopping and to beaches. Finally with the help of the suddenly soulful bus driver and widower, Georgia is able to open up and embrace her kefe – her mojo.

I know, I know. It is completely cheesy. Yet somehow it kinda worked.

I can’t honestly exactly tell you that My Life in Ruins is a good film, because for sure it is not. It’s barely above sitcom quality. However, if you know what you are getting into and take it on its own low-key level, there are much worse ways to spend an afternoon.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2009 All rights reserved. Posted: November 8, 2009.


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