Canadian theatrical release poster
|Directed by||P. J. Hogan|
|Produced by||Lynda House
|Written by||P. J. Hogan|
|Music by||Peter Best|
|Editing by||Jill Bilcock|
House & Moorhouse Films
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Release dates||29 September 1994
10 March 1995 (United States)
|Running time||106 minutes|
|Box office||$15,119,639 (USA)|
Muriel's Wedding is a 1994 Australian romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by P. J. Hogan. The film, which stars actors Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Jeanie Drynan, Sophie Lee, and Bill Hunter, focuses on the socially awkward Muriel whose ambition is to have a glamorous wedding and improve her personal life by moving from her dead-end home town, the fictional Porpoise Spit, to Sydney.
The film received multiple award nominations, including a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (Collette).
A socially awkward, overweight, naïve "ugly duckling", who is obsessed with the music of ABBA, Muriel Heslop (Toni Collette) is the target of ridicule by the more fashion-conscious girls she considers her friends. She also is a perpetual daydreamer who yearns for a glamorous wedding and marriage to a man who will help improve her personal life and free her from a tedious life dominated by her demanding and often psychologically abusive father Bill (Bill Hunter), a corrupt politician who verbally lashes out at his subservient wife Betty and their unambitious children at every opportunity.
After Bill discovers Muriel has used a blank cheque to steal money to finance a vacation at a tropical resort, she leaves her family in the coastal town of Porpoise Spit, Queensland to set up house in Sydney with her carefree, hedonistic friend Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths). In Sydney, she follows her dream, only to discover life's realities. Although ostensibly a comedy, Muriel's Wedding deals with serious issues. The overriding theme of following one's dream is regularly punctuated by scenes depicting the disappointments and loss of self-esteem that frequently accompany the quest.
For the role of Muriel, Toni Collette gained 18 kg (40 lb) in seven weeks.
- Toni Collette as Muriel Heslop
- Rachel Griffiths as Rhonda Epinstall
- Bill Hunter as Bill Heslop
- Sophie Lee as Tania Degano
- Jeanie Drynan as Betty Heslop
- Gennie Nevinson as Deidre Chambers
- Daniel Lapaine as David Van Arkle
- Matt Day as Brice Nobes
- Roz Hammond as Cheryl
- Belinda Jarrett as Janine
- Pippa Grandison as Nicole
The film received positive reviews from critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said the film "is merciless in its portrait of provincial society, and yet has a huge affection for its misfit survivors... [it] has a lot of big and little laughs in it, but also a melancholy undercurrent, which reveals itself toward the end of the film in a series of surprises and unexpected developments... The film's good heart keeps it from ever making fun of Muriel, although there are moments that must have been tempting."
Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle stated, "With such recent hits as Strictly Ballroom and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Australia seems to be cornering the market for odd but delightful comedies laced with substance and romance. The latest, Muriel's Wedding, is another bright, occasionally brilliant, example... The movie is much meatier than its larky comic sheen leads you to think at first... There's poignant drama in this brash, sometimes overstated film, and Muriel's transformation is truly touching."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called it "exuberantly funny... a crowd pleaser that spices a tired formula with genuine feeling... In the final scenes, when Hogan dares to let his humor turn edgy, Collette's performance gains in force, and Muriel's Wedding becomes a date you want to keep."
Muriel's Wedding currently holds a 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 40 reviews.
Muriel's Wedding grossed $15,765,571 at the box office in Australia, which is equivalent to $23,648,357 dollars in 2009.
The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 1994 and opened in Australia the following month. It earned US$244,969 on 14 screens in its opening weekend in the US and eventually grossed US$15,119,639 in the United States.
- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Film – Lynda House and Jocelyn Moorhouse
- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress – Toni Collette
- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actress – Rachel Griffiths
- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Achievement in Sound – Peter Best
- Australasian Performing Rights Association Award for Best Film Score – Peter Best
- Australian Film Critics Award for Best Actress – Toni Collette
- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Director – P. J. Hogan
- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Screenplay – P. J. Hogan
- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actor – Bill Hunter
- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actress – Jeanie Drynan
- BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay – P. J. Hogan
- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay – P. J. Hogan
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Musical/Comedy – Toni Collette
The music of ABBA forms the backbone of the film's soundtrack. Songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson allowed their use in the film and permitted one of their hits, "Dancing Queen", to be adapted as an orchestral piece as long as the band received a percentage of the film's profits.
Additional popular tunes heard in the film include "Dancing Queen", "Mamma Mia", "Waterloo", "Fernando", and "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do", all performed by ABBA; "Sugar Baby Love" by The Rubettes; "The Tide Is High" by Blondie; "I Go to Rio" by Peter Allen; and "Happy Together" by The Turtles.
- "Muriel's Wedding (1995)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
- Ebert, Roger (17 March 1995). "Muriel's Wedding". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
- Stack, Peter (17 March 1995). "Seeking Bliss, Muriel Finds Herself Instead / Sweet 'Wedding' comedy has substance". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
- Travers, Peter (8 December 2000). "Muriel's Wedding". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
- Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
- "Muriel's Wedding (1995) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. 1995. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
- Official website
- Muriel's Wedding at the Internet Movie Database
- Muriel's Wedding at AllMovie
- Muriel's Wedding at Box Office Mojo
- Muriel's Wedding at Rotten Tomatoes
- Muriel's Wedding at Metacritic
- Muriel's Wedding at the National Film and Sound Archive
- UrbanCinefile.com article