Isn’t Greek cheese at least supposed to arrive at the table aflame? My Life in Ruins takes the tepid framework of the aimless travelogue—ooh, statues—and weds it to the mysteriously durable appeal of Nia Vardalos, whose blandly likable turn in My Big Fat Greek Wedding seriously tested the limits of stardom. Here she plays Georgia, an American expat bounced into an accidental life as a mediocre Grecian tour guide who needs to find her inner spirit and, inevitably, do that robust Anthony Quinn dance. Assisting her on her journey is a thinly conceived busload of tourists (American boors, Spanish hotcha mamas, English snobs, etc.), all of whom learn lessons in shucking clichés as they steer Georgia toward Poupi (Georgoulis), their broodalicious bus driver.
Settling for My Life in Ruins requires a serious lowering of the bar: like digging a groove for it. Amazingly, we’re supposed to learn lessons in adventurousness from a movie that plays like a 1980s TV special episode, but if there’s one thing the pinched-face Vardalos seems incapable of, it’s veering from the comfort zone. “Act!,” you’ll scream at her. She’ll shrug. When ham bone Richard Dreyfuss, smirking his way through the role of a pontificating widow, is your chief source of pleasure, it’s time to push this Trojan horse outside.