75. Muriel’s Wedding

Movie: Muriel’s Wedding

Release Date: March 10, 1995

Director: P. J. Hogan

Starring: Toni Collette, Bill Hunter, Rachel Griffiths.

Tag Lines: “A comedy about a small-town girl who didn’t fit in, but is about to learn how to stand out.”

“She’s not just getting married, she’s getting even.”

“Success is the best revenge.”

“A Story of Love, Laughter and the Pursuit of Matrimony, everyone is invited!”

“You just have to be there!”

“The hilarious comedy about friends, fun and unexpected surprises!”

Relevance: I was dancing around to ABBA since the 1970’s, long before their resurgent popularity in the 1990’s. I have written about it a few times on this blog before (see 241. Saturday Night Fever and 117. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), but it was mostly due to my mom’s love for the super group. What she loved, I loved. For me, their epic pop songs, catchy tunes and unforgettable lyrics have never gone out of style. Even when disco was pronounced dead in the early 1980’s, ABBA still filled my days and nights with glorious music to sing and dance to. So it was no surprise that when I saw the soundtrack to ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ in a music store filled with ABBA tracks, I snatched it up quicker than a bridesmaid reaching for the bride’s tossed bouquet.

Unfortunately, I did not see the film when it played in movie theaters. The film was a popular Australian movie but only received a limited release here in the United States. It received great reviews and despite being limited, did pretty decent at the box office. It also received many award nominations including a coveted Golden Globe nomination for its then unknown star (at least to me) Toni Collette. The trailer made me smile and I knew it would be a film I would want to see as soon as it was released to home media.

By the time I saw ‘Muriel’s Wedding,’ I had already gone through a wedding of my own. In 1995 I played the role of the virgin groom (although not really a virgin) and was put through the torture of a big, traditional wedding. The cutting of the cake, the tossing of the bouquet, the toasts, the dancing and the decorated car were all checked off on the “Wedding-to-do” list. Sure, it was fun and exciting, but it was all just a blur to me and my memory of it only exists through the nauseating pictures that are still left over. (The marriage didn’t last, why should the annoying pictures.)

The bride’s Maid of Honor was, how shall I put this…seaward…and no, she was not in the Navy. Don’t make me spell it out for you. (Sea-ward, c-word.) She was (and probably still is) a mean, unfriendly, conniving, despicable and horrible human being. Nobody, I mean nobody liked her, that is except for the bride (which says a lot about her I might add). Since she was the bride’s very best friend I unfortunately had to endure her, a lot. One of the things I remember her hammering on about around the time of the grand ceremony slash celebration was ‘Muriel’s Wedding.’ She had just seen the movie and talked about it non-stop. She constantly described the movie in excruciatingly drab details giving plot points, spoilers and pretty much ruined the film for me. Evil. Pure evil.

Despite the story being ruined for me, I still listened to its soundtrack and eventually rented it from our local video story when it became available. Despite it not being original for me, because I had that detailed synopsis of its entire plot told to me incessantly, it was a very delightful movie. It was quirky and weird yet really funny with great performances. It also gave me the line “You’re terrible, Muriel,” which I would mutter under my breath every time I had to see the dreaded Maid of Horror, I mean Honor.

Even “Seaward Sally” (that’s what I shall call her from now on) could not destroy the film for me. The marriage ended and thankfully so did me having to ever see Seaward Sally again, but ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ has endured. It remained one of my favorite films of all time and made me a huge fan of both Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths. I have followed and enjoyed both of those fine actresses’ careers and when I see them I fondly remember the joy that is ‘Muriel’s Wedding.’ I now own the DVD as part of my movie collection and I proudly still watch it periodically as well as sing and dance to ABBA every chance that I get.

Today’s Thoughts: “When I lived in Porpoise Spit, I used to sit in my room for hours and listen to ABBA songs. But since I’ve met you and moved to Sydney, I haven’t listened to one Abba song. That’s because my life is as good as an Abba song. It’s as good as Dancing Queen.”

‘Muriel’s Wedding’ is still a fun, entertaining soap opera like comedy that delights me every time I watch it. Today was no exception. I watched the film today with my husband, which to my surprise, had never seen it before. The music is grand, the story is grander and the acting is the grandest of them all. Toni Collette has become one of my favorite actresses and her performance as Muriel Heslop is one of my all time favorites. She is absolutely brilliant.

I think what I love most about ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ is the character of Muriel herself. She always felt she was a nobody and would never fit in or amount to anything in her life. That is, until she escaped her life to start anew. She also idolized a pop group. Even though I love ABBA, my idolization comes in the form of Madonna. And like Muriel, it wasn’t until I escaped my past life did I finally start to live. I mean really live.

Although ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ does bring up the horror of Seaward Sally, it is and always will be a fantastic movie. It comes very highly recommended and one that will put a smile on your face and make you want to listen to ABBA non-stop.

Awards: Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Toni Collette (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, P. J. Hogan (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, P. J. Hogan (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Vudu. iTunes, YouTube, DVD Availability.

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