Film Discussion: My Life in Ruins (Travel to Greece)

Cinema Stats

  • Year: 2009
  • Director: Donald Petrie
  • Screenplay: Mike Reiss
  • Length 1 Hr. 38 min.
  • Genre: Romance, Comedy
  • Rating: PG 13 for sexual content (mostly implied)
  • Stars: Nia Varldalos (Georgia), Richard Dreyfuss (Irv), Rachel Dratch (Kim), Alexis Georgoulis (Poupi), Alistair McGowan (Nico)

Cher’s Stats:

Filled with Art and Architecture of ancient Greece
Great interaction between the people, food and language of Greece
Visit iconic ancient sites and landscape in Greece
Roles exemplify stereotypes and while fun, lack in depth

Travel Tips: Greece

Cher’s Armchair Travel: Greece

GREECE. The Parthenon, high atop the ancient Acropolis, overlooking the great city of Athens is the first scene that pops in my mind.

High on my list of places to visit, I have been fortunate enough to visit Greece three times. The first time was a part of a much larger group. The second time, we were leading a group of students and adults. The third visit was just the two of us, my husband and me.

Each of these experiences helped me appreciate this film in a different way. I could keenly relate to the first two: being a part of a tour group–and being the leader of a tour group!

For anyone who plans to travel with a group in their lifetime, watching this film could be insightful–and add appreciation for your tour guide! (See Travel Tips on group travel at the end of this page)


Georgia (Nia Vardalos, who you may recall from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) is an American who has just lost her teaching position at an Athens college and has taken a job as a tourist tour guide.

She loves the Greek culture, its ancient history and longs to share it with others.

Georgia abhors that most tourists in her groups are bored with history and facts; they want to shop and hang out at the beach. She hates her job, her life–and it shows; she has lost her passion in everything. She has decided this is her last tour. Then she will quit.

Not only is Georgia stuck with her group of ragtag tourists on a four-day tour, she’s also stuck with a bus with no air conditioning and a silent, long-haired new bus driver.

CAST of Characters:

I enjoyed Georgia’s astute and accurate observation of the make up of every tour group: the goofy couple, the frat boy, a sullen teen, a feuding couple, divorcees looking for a mate, and a funny guy. This group is no exception; plus it adds a lovable little old lady kleptomaniac who shares her ill-gotten treasure with others on the bus.

These stereotypical personalities are portrayed to the max, adding to the fun of the movie because we all probably know someone just like each of them.

TRAVEL highlights

Highglights of the film for me are the exquisite shots of and experiences in the ancient sites visited by the group.

The movie was actually filmed on-site in various spots in Greece: Delphi, Olympia, Epidaurus and Athens scenes at the Agora, the Plaka, and the Acropolis.

As Georgia finally becomes engaged with the group, thanks to her unlikely friendship with Irv, one of the travelers with decades of travel and life experience, the group also gels with one another. They start to have fun!

The Ancient Sites

The ancient sites are now not just dry, dusty ruins: they are transformed! Delphi comes alive as the Oracle of Delphi takes life, thanks to Irv. Olympia becomes a re-enactment of the Olympic Games. Standing next to the majestic columns of the Parthenon, they begin to understand what Georgia means when she shares how she can feel the wind in the ruins at just the right time, if one stops to actually listen.


The film portrays a clash of personalities and cultures. In the opening scenes, Maria (tour company manager), presents to us the very demonstrative and colorful personality often associated with Greeks.

Poupi, the bus driver, reveals a more reflective and contemplative Greek personality. Georgia shares a bit of Greek food specialties when she purchases souvlaki on a stick, a Greek meat specialty, for her group, who prefers donuts and ice cream.

And in a flash-back moment, who could ignore the impact of watching Anthony Quinn in the movie “Zorba the Greek,” with its Greek dance and music, playing on the black and white screen in the lobby of their run-down, tacky first hotel!

Thanks to daisies, ice-cream, pancake syrup, an unlikely friendship and the Oracle at Delphi, as the tour progresses, Georgia begins to see the world in a new light.

The story concludes with an idyllic full moon shining brightly over the gloriously lit silhouette of the Parthenon. A perfect scene for a happy ending to a very enjoyable film.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to book the next flight to Greece!

TRAVEL TIP: For anyone who has traveled, or plans to travel, with a group, the film is full of insights into the plethora of personalities one will encounter–including styles of tour guides. Be sure to discuss what you are looking for with your travel agent or whoever is matching you up with a tour. Do you want to shop? Go to the beach? or dig into the history and culture of the place you are visiting? There is no “right” or “wrong,” just what is right for you and your fellow travelers.

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