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'My Life in Ruins'

She's no longer big, she's no longer fat. But she's still Greek. And still charming. So Nia Vardalos may actually be capable of parlaying the soggy contents of "My Life in Ruins" into another indie success (having written and starred, of course, in one of the decade's biggest, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"). No one in the audience, however, will be hollering "Opa!"

In addition to the flabby substance of TV writer Mike Reiss' script, and the bloated direction of Donald Petrie - responsible for, among other crimes, "Welcome to Mooseport" - the story's as predictable as a heart attack after a steady diet of saganaki: Georgia (Vardalos), a tour-bus guide for a fly-by-night Grecian travel line, desperately wants to impart a love of Greek history and culture to her laughably lumpen passengers. What she'd also like is a love life. While her cliched customers ("tipsy Australians . . . obnoxious Americans . . . old people . . . ") yearn for ice cream, tchotchkes and a day on the Aegean beach, Georgia drones on about ancient temples - and gets increasingly depressed about her life and her work.

Ah, but never fear: Georgia's hunky driver Poupi (Alexis Georgoulis) will shave his Tom Hanks-in-"Cast Away" beard and reveal his animal nature. And a relentlessly wisecracking tourist - a particularly tiresome Richard Dreyfuss - will cast pearls of wisdom across the sea, rhyme "Socrates" with "feta cheese" and teach Georgia what she's doing wrong in her nonpursuit of love. It will all be very heartwarming, in the worst sense of the word.

PLOT How a slightly stuffy tour guide got her groove on in Greece.

CAST Nia Vardalos, Alexis Georgoulis, Richard Dreyfuss, Caroline Goodall


PLAYING AT Area theaters

BOTTOM LINE A chance for the "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding" star to get back in the saddle. Vardalos is charming.


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