Driving Aphrodite (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner02/10/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Vardalos' charming and likeable presence ensures that this is just about watchable, but it's painfully unfunny and the script is full of horrible cliches and lazy stereotypes.

What's it all about?
Directed by Donald Petrie, Driving Aphrodite (originally titled My Life In Ruins) is set in Athens and stars Nia Vardalos as Georgia, a frustrated Greek-American tour guide who hasn't had sex in forever and is thinking about moving back to America. It doesn't help that her boss (Bernice Stegers) always favours her smooth-operating colleague (Alistair McGowan) and constantly lands her with the worst tourist groups.

Sure enough, as Georgia's latest five-day tour begins, she finds herself lumbered with the usual group of snooty Brits, boorish Americans (including Richard Dreyfuss), sex-mad Spaniards and drunken Australians. However, she also finds herself unexpectedly bonding with her hairy bus driver, the unfortunately named Poupi Kakas (Alexis Georgoulis).

The Good
Essentially, this is My Big Fat Greek Holiday, with Vardalos and executive producers Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson (who has a brief cameo) obviously hoping to replicate the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. To that end, Vardalos is charming and likeable throughout and she at least has decent chemistry with Georgoulis, though the script does them no favours.

The Bad
The main problem is that the script relies too heavily on tired cliches and lazy stereotypes - Caroline Goodall as the stuck-up Brit who eventually chills out is perhaps the worst example, but there's something for everyone. It's also desperately unfunny with horribly forced slapstick gags (chocolate ice cream spillage) and a script that constantly opts for cheap, one-note gags (a shoplifting sweet old lady, incomprehensible Australians, etc.).

You feel particularly sorry for Richard Dreyfuss, who gives a decent performance as the twinkly-eyed senior citizen, but is forced to spout the most horrendous, cliche-laden dialogue. They also seem to have re-shot his final scenes and you can tell by his face that he's as embarrassed as we are.

Worth seeing?
The locations are pretty and Vardalos is effortlessly charming and likeable, but Driving Aphrodite is ultimately something of a Big Fat Greek disappointment.

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Content updated: 13/12/2017 20:34

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