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Driving Aphrodite


Stars: Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss, Alexis Georgoulis, Alistair McGowan, Ian Ogilvy, Sophie Stuckey, Caroline Goodall, Harland Williams

Director: Donald Petrie

Unconventional Greek-American star Vardalos makes nice films. After her debut hit in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, she gave us the underrated flop Connie and Carla. Now here comes the third (originally - and more wittily - titled My Life in Ruins), a totally unbelievable but sweet-natured movie that, despite its deficiencies, won me over long before the end.

Georgia (Vardalos) is a classical history graduate who has never got the jobs she feels she's deserved, and has ended at rock bottom, as the 'B' tour guide for an Athens company whose coaches are as dilapidated as some of the tourists who trudge around the country's historical sites.

Georgia gets the worst of these groups, who always rate her as average. But things are about to change. They start badly though. The coach's aircon doesn't work. The big, hairy driver, Poupi (Georgoulis), doesn't seem to speak English. And the tourists all hate Georgia's dryasdust spiel about ancient ruins. Only Irv (Dreyfuss) cheers everyone up. Georgia's rival, the smarmy Nico (McGowan), seems streets ahead.

Then Poupi shaves off his beard, proves to be the dreamboat every Shirley Valentine should meet and tells Georgia to lighten up, which she does - perhaps a little too much for some of the passengers, including the stuffy English couple (Goodall and 70s' TV star Ogilvy) and their sulky 16-year-old daughter (Stuckey), for whom Poupi finds a nice Greek boy.

By no means a great film - the stereotyped characters see to that - this is still delightful, breeze-fresh entertainment.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 29 Sep 2009