Review: My Life in Ruins

The surprise success of the indie romantic comedy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was one of those rare movie occurrences no one could have designed or predicted. Which is precisely why Nia Vardalos' latest toplining effort, "My Life in Ruins," is doomed from the start: In attempting to replicate "Wedding's" appeal and recycle a number of now-familiar elements, the new pic -- about an embittered Greek-American tour guide's search for love and happiness -- feels like warmed-over souvlaki. Some fans of the original may line up for seconds, but this comedy will hold a decidedly more modest allure.

Lacking marquee names and a high-concept hook, 2002's "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," which Vardalos scripted and starred in, was vastly more successful ($356 million worldwide) than it had any reason to be. Fans -- largely femme and older filmgoers -- were charmed by its universal themes, broad humor and Vardalos' vanity-free performance as ethnic Everywoman Toula Portokalos. In "My Life in Ruins," her first bigscreen outing since 2004's "Connie and Carla," Vardalos plays Georgia, a single Athens-based tour guide who's lost her "kefi" (zest or mojo).

But from the moment Vardalos struts onscreen in her 2½-inch wedges, thigh-baring skirts and honey-toned Sarah Palin coiffure, it's clear she's undergone a major transformation: Gone are the endearing clumsiness, simple frocks, untamed hair and, from the looks of it, at least 20 pounds. Nevertheless, like Toula, Georgia works at a travel agency, engages with a cast of colorful characters and eventually falls for a tall, sensitive guy with long hair.

That would be tour bus driver Poupi (Alexis Georgoulis), whose entrance under a thicket-like beard elicits uninspired Sasquatch comparisons. Beginning yet another extended tour through Greece, would-be classics professor Georgia finds herself relegated to a dilapidated bus filled with every conceivable tourist stereotype.

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