Tuesday, October 15, 2013

884. Muriel's Wedding (1994)

Running Time: 105 minutes
Directed By: P.J. Hogan
Written By: P.J. Hogan
Main Cast: Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Bill Hunter, Sophie Lee, Jeanie Drynan
Click here to view the trailer


"You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life 
See that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the dancing queen" 

Man alive, did I love those ABBA tunes! The only previous exposure I'd had to ABBA was watching an very early episode of Saturday Night Live (one of the first five, I think) where they were the musical guest. Anyway, for the unaware, this film is jam packed with ABBA songs, but that's just the start of it.

Toni Collette is Muriel Heslop, an unemployed, overweight, wannabe bride from Porpoise Spit, Australia. The film starts with Muriel catching the flying bouquet at a wedding and only getting a moment to bask in the glory of it all, before her "friends" yank the flowers from her hand and give them to another, more popular friend, as we get a look at the pitiful world that Muriel exists in. Her father insists that she (and her four siblings) are useless and constantly berates them, on his way for running for public office. Muriel's mother is constantly in a daze, as she tries to stay afloat in a loveless marriage, that is being held together with scotch tape and dental floss. One day Muriel sees an opportunity to reinvent herself and begins with a vacation, where she runs into and reunites with former school chum, Rhonda (Griffiths). The two reconnect swimmingly and soon are inseparable. From there, Muriel changes her name to Mariel, moves to Sydney and drastically alters her appearance, beginning with a dash of self esteem, something that was seriously and blatantly lacking. Muriel gets a few dates, but the reinvention of her life is put on hold when Rhonda is diagnosed with cancer. Muriel spends her days taking care of Rhonda and her nights dreaming of an old fashioned, white wedding, while trying to avoid her parents who want her to return home.


You know, I really liked this, but I also had some issues with it that I want to take care of first. Let's start with the fact that the film doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama and constantly switches gears throughout the duration of the movie. The film also incorporates about two too many subplots and by the time the end rolls around, it's almost inevitable that a loose end will be left untied. Not only do you have the central plot of Muriel's life reinvention in Sydney, but you also have Rhonda's cancer, Bill's political scandal, Muriel's family and the wreckage of their home life, Muriel's impending and eventual nuptials to David and Bryce, who is shown to some dramatic effect near the end, but nothing ever happens with him. I have to tell you it felt like a great foundation that needed just a bit of tweaking to be made flawless. I could have done without the mother's suicide and the sudden change in heart of Muriel's father, a character development that seemed flat out unnatural and forced for the sake of a happier ending. It just seemed like the film had a mild case of ADD and couldn't keep it's focus straight and in my opinion, it only hindered the flow of an otherwise fine film.

However, a mainly interesting and inspiring central plot, coupled with the outstanding work of Toni Collette (who is fast becoming a favorite of mine) makes this a win, in my book. I watched about forty-five minutes of this last night and then had to stop & catch some sleep and honestly, I couldn't wait to get home tonight and finish it off. Despite being foreign, the atmosphere seemed oddly familiar and the film DID take the rom-com genre, mixed in a few special ingredients and presented us something with a kick. Little girls who grew up to be wannabe brides are going to go gaga for this, as are die hard ABBA fans (the films soundtrack is comprised exclusively of ABBA tunes) and anyone with a soft heart, who enjoys squirting a few tears when they watch movies. Check it out, I highly doubt you'll be disappointed, as there's a little something for everybody.

RATING: 7/10  The problems I spoke of hitched this one up a bit, but a '7' is nothing to sneeze at and considered a part of that upper echelon of really good - amazing movies.


October 15, 2013  11:29pm


  1. Please forgive me if I start out with abit of a personal statement about uplifting/depressing movies/music etc.. It will have a bearing on what I will say about this film.
    I'm a bit odd about so called depressing music, TV,or films... I generally find 'light entertainment' seriously depressing - stuff like (and please excuse me if these are totally unknown in the USA).. X factor, Britain/America's got talent and all that reality junk - (Have you been infected with the 'Big Brother' format?). In the same way I find light frothy pop music like Abba much more depressing than - say- Tom Waites, Leonard Cohen, The Smiths. .. (I told you it would come round to being relevant, thanks for your patience).
    So you must be expecting me to rubbish this one ..
    But in the same way I accepted, or even liked 'Clueless', 'A Christmas story', 'Little Miss sunshine'.. I quite enjoyed this one.
    Why? Well, they all have an edge.. there is genuine grit in the oyster of these films. 'Clueless', as I said at the time, goes at the silly facile characters full tilt. The Abba music in this I see as tongue in cheek.. (see 'Priscilla, queen of the desert' for the same thing). Murial may be a bit shallow in what she seems to want.. But is even in her bad times, a million times better than her class mates. And when given the chance to break free of the stultifying family becomes a much better person.
    Sorry, another ramble.
    Maybe not a 'top film', but certainly worth your good solid 7.

    1. YES, we have Big Brother in the states and I'm have to say it's a guilty pleasure of mine. My wife got me into it about four or five years ago and I never miss an episode when it's on. it's only on in the summer months here though. It's the only "reality" show I watch though (I use quotes on "REALITY", because I wouldn't be surprise if the majority of these shows were scripted) and can't really stand the singing ones (America's Got Talent, X-Factor, etc. etc.) Oh, I love Hell's Kitchen too with Gordon Ramsay. Great show!! Surprising how a Muriel's Wedding review got us on the topic of reality tv, but a good, solid discussion is always welcome.


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