October 1, 2017

Real Courage is Contagious: My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

People often joke about being the real-life version of the cowardly lion from the critically-acclaimed, classic movie The Wizard of Oz and even worse, needing something external to help them muster up the courage that they wished they had naturally. Real talk: Real courage already lives inside of you right now. You don't need anyone or anything else to be the person you want to be.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding movie poster.jpg
Image Credit: Wikimedia
We've all had moments in our lives when we've daydreamed, fantasized, etc., about a different life, especially when we were having a tough time. This form of distraction is called escapism and is, in fact, considered healthy by some. Equally important, escapism is natural as it helps us get through any rough patches in our lives and it motivates us to achieve more, which then, not surprisingly, catches on with others. Specifically, when we dare to be bold and go after whatever it is that we desire (aka be courageous), we tend to inspire others to act in a similar vein -- it's one of the things that we tend to get right in real life and in the movies. That's why the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) is more than just an entertaining movie, it's also a great reminder to us all that real courage is contagious.

In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), 30-year-old self-proclaimed "frump girl" Fotoula "Toula" Portokalos (Nia Vardolas) hates her life. Although she loves her overbearing and always-in-your-business Greek family, she wants more for herself than to simply work at the family restaurant and be her father's right hand. And though Toula feels trapped in her life and that it is happening to her as opposed to her participating in it, she does dare to dream of a different life for herself: one in which she makes her own choices and is happy above all else. Then one day, Toula's dream guy comes walking into her family's restaurant, Dancing Zorbas, and she is completely captivated. After arguably embarrassing herself during their first interaction -- due to her obnoxious staring -- something clicks in her, prompting Toula to make some changes in her life. With some help from her mom Maria Portokalos (Lainie Kazan), Toula was back in school studying computers and interacting with her peers, which then gave her the confidence to try even more new things like makeup, contacts, and new clothes. Toula even convinced her aunt to let her work at her travel agency where she eventually had a run-in with you guessed it Ian Miller (John Corbett) or should I say Mr. Perfect?

Toula and Ian hit it off instantly and immediately began dating. Naturally, they fell in love. And though all was well and good in their blossoming relationship, they were soon tested when Toula's family found out that she was dating a non-Greek. Then came the real courage (for both Toula and Ian). But they persevered, eventually even winning over Toula's stubborn father Kostas "Gus" Portokalos (Michael Constantine) and the rest of her family (and extended family). In the end, though Toula was initially hesitant of stepping out and doing her own thing, all she really had to do was simply take ownership of her life and act, which her fiance Ian undoubtedly gave her the strength to do. Once Toula and Ian became a united front intent on doing whatever they needed to do to be accepted by Toula's family, everything truly began to fall into place from there. And even better, Toula and Ian even inspired others to be courageous, too, as Toula's brother began to pursue his passion for art and her in-laws (Ian's parents) began to embrace a new culture.

Although My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) is a delightful romantic comedy (emphasis on the comedy -- it's hilarious!) with a great cast, it's also a great reminder to us all that real courage is contagious. Like Toula in the movie, once we make up our minds and summon the courage within to go after our own dream life, not only will we finally get to live our best life, but we'll also inspire others to do the same. So, go be courageous and inspire others to do the same through your example. It just might be the best thing you can do for yourself and those around you.