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Muriel's Wedding

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Muriel's Wedding
Canadian theatrical release poster
Directed byP. J. Hogan
Written byP. J. Hogan
Produced by
CinematographyMartin McGrath
Edited byJill Bilcock
Music byPeter Best
CiBy Sales Limited
Film Victoria
House & Moorhouse Films
Distributed byRoadshow Film Distributors[1]
Release dates
  • 15 September 1994 (1994-09-15) (TIFF)
  • 29 September 1994 (1994-09-29) (Australia)
Running time
101 minutes
Budget$9 million[2]
Box office$57.5 million[2]

Muriel's Wedding is a 1994 Australian comedy-drama film written and directed by P. J. Hogan. The film, which stars 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 hometown, the fictional Porpoise Spit, to Sydney.

The film premiered at the 1994 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in Australia on 29 September 1994. It received positive reviews and earned multiple award nominations, including a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Collette).


Socially awkward young Muriel Heslop is the target of ridicule by her shallow and egotistical friends, Tania, Cheryl, Janine, and Nicole. She spends her time listening to ABBA songs and daydreaming of a glamorous wedding to get her away from the dead-end beach town of Porpoise Spit and Bill, her domineering father and corrupt politician who constantly belittles his whole family. Muriel attends the wedding of Tania and Chook, during which she sees him and Nicole secretly having sex. Wedding guest Dianne, a department store detective, calls the police on Muriel for stealing the dress she is wearing, and they publicly escort Muriel out of the reception.

Soon after, Bill's rumoured mistress, Deidre Chambers, recruits Muriel into her multilevel marketing business, and Muriel's "friends" officially kick her out of their group after clarifying she is not invited on an island holiday. Muriel's mother, Betty, signs a blank cheque for Muriel to buy products for the cosmetics business, but she instead uses it to withdraw $12,000 and follow them to the island anyway. There, Muriel runs into Rhonda Epinstall, an old high school acquaintance, and they quickly strike up a friendship, cemented when Rhonda gleefully tells Tania about Nicole and Chook.

Returning home, Muriel is confronted by Betty regarding the stolen money. She immediately runs away to Sydney, sharing a flat with Rhonda and changing her name to Mariel. She gets a job at a video store, meets and briefly dates an awkward but kind man, Brice Nobes. One night, Rhonda suddenly falls down, unable to feel her legs. While at the hospital, Muriel calls home and learns her father is being investigated for taking bribes. Rhonda has a cancerous tumour in her spine and undergoes multiple operations, eventually leaving her paraplegic. Muriel promises Rhonda to look after her and never let her go back to Porpoise Spit. She also uses Rhonda's health crisis to obtain pampered service at numerous bridal shops, trying on wedding dresses and taking photographs to indulge her wedding obsession. When Rhonda confronts Muriel, she finally confesses to her fixation on a storybook wedding, and their friendship becomes strained.

Desperate, Muriel agrees to marry South African swimmer David Van Arkle so he can join Team Australia in the upcoming Olympics; she is paid $10,000 by David's parents for her help. At Muriel's elaborate wedding in Sydney, Tania, Cheryl, and Janine are her bridesmaids; bitter Rhonda refuses to be one. Bill openly treats Deidre as his date, and Betty is late to the wedding as she is unable to afford plane tickets; Muriel does not notice her at the wedding. Rhonda moves back to her mother's home, unable to live in Sydney without help. After the wedding, David makes his disinterest in Muriel clear to her.

In Porpoise Spit, an increasingly distraught Betty unintentionally shoplifts a pair of sandals she tries on, and Dianne calls the police. Bill arranges for the charges to disappear. Betty then pleads with Bill for help, only for Bill to announce his intention to divorce her and marry Deidre. She is later found dead by her daughter Joanie. It is announced that Betty had a heart attack, but Joanie reveals to Muriel that it was suicide. At her mother's funeral, David comforts Muriel, and they finally consummate their marriage. Her mother's death forces her to take a hard look at her life, and she tells him she can no longer remain married to him as neither of them are in love, and she wants to stop lying. Bill asks Muriel to help raise her siblings, as Deidre is less likely to marry him with the children in tow. He has also lost his job on city council. Muriel stands up to him, giving him $5,000 of her wedding money and telling him she will repay the rest of the stolen amount when she gets a job in Sydney. Impressing her father with her more assertive personality, Muriel demands that he stop his verbally abusive treatment of her siblings.

Muriel goes to Rhonda's house, where Muriel's former tormentors are visiting, and offers to take her back to Sydney. Rhonda accepts and lets the other girls know what she thinks of them, much to their shock and anger. The best friends head to the airport, happily leaving Porpoise Spit behind for a more promising future.



The film used Tweed Heads as the locale for Porpoise Spit,[3] although the scene of Muriel and Rhonda leaving Porpoise Spit was filmed in its adjoining "Twin Town", Coolangatta.[4] Other filming locations included Moreton Island, Darlinghurst, the Gold Coast, Elanora,[5] Tugun, Parramatta, Kensington, Surfers Paradise and Sydney.

For the role of Muriel, Toni Collette gained 18kg (40lb) in seven weeks.[6]


The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 1994 and opened in Australia at the end of the month, a month after another Australian film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Muriel's Wedding received positive reviews from critics and has a score of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 48 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The critical consensus states "Heartfelt and quirky, though at times broad, Muriel's Wedding mixes awkward comedy, oddball Australian characters, and a nostalgia-heavy soundtrack."[8] The film also has a score of 63 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 14 critics, indicating 'Generally favourable reviews'[9]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated the film "is merciless in its portrait of provincial society, and yet has a huge affection for its misfit survivors...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."[10]

Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote "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."[11]

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 humour turn edgy, Collette's performance gains in force, and Muriel's Wedding becomes a date you want to keep."[12]

Box office[edit]

Muriel's Wedding grossed AU$2.2 million in its opening week in Australia (September 1994) from 72 screens, at that time the third biggest opening for an Australian film behind two films starring Paul Hogan (no relation to the director of Muriel's Wedding) – Crocodile Dundee II (1988) and Lightning Jack (1994).[7] It went on to gross AU$15.8 million (equivalent to AU$34.7 million in 2023) at the box office in Australia.[13]

It earned US$245,000 on 14 screens in its opening weekend in the US (March 1995) and eventually grossed US$15.1 million in the United States and Canada.[14]


Award Category Subject Result Ref.
AACTA Awards (1994 AFI Awards) Best Film Lynda House and Jocelyn Moorhouse Won [15]
Best Direction P. J. Hogan Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Actress Toni Collette Won
Best Supporting Actor Bill Hunter Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Jeanie Drynan Nominated
Rachel Griffiths Won
Best Editing Jill Bilcock Nominated
Best Sound David Lee, Glenn Newnham, Livia Ruzic and Roger Savage Won
Best Production Design Paddy Reardon Nominated
Best Costume Design Terry Ryan Nominated
APRA Award Best Film Score Peter Best Won [1]
BAFTA Award Best Original Screenplay P. J. Hogan Nominated [16]
Golden Globe Award Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Toni Collette Nominated [17]
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Most Promising Actress Nominated [1]
Chicago International Film Festival Mercedes-Benz Audience Award P. J. Hogan Won [1]
FCCA Awards Best Actor – Female Toni Collette Won [1]
Best Supporting Actor – Female Rachel Griffiths Won
Writers Guild of America Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen P. J. Hogan Nominated [1]


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 "Dancing Queen" to be adapted as an orchestral piece. Additional ABBA songs included are "Waterloo" and "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do".

ABBA only gave permission for their music to be included in the film two weeks before shooting commenced; the filmmakers were considering changing Muriel's favourite band to The Village People.[18]

Also included in the soundtrack are "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.

Stage adaptation[edit]

In September 2016, it was announced that Sydney Theatre Company would produce a musical adaptation of Muriel's Wedding. Muriel's Wedding the Musical incorporates songs by ABBA as well as original music by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall. P. J. Hogan wrote the musical's book, Simon Phillips directed, and Gabriela Tylesova designed the set and costumes.[19] The musical ran at the Roslyn Packer Theatre from 6 November 2017 through 27 January 2018.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Muriel's Wedding - Review". Oz Movies. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Muriel's Wedding (1995)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  3. ^ "The wedding belle" by Stephen Lowenstein, The Guardian, 22 October 2000
  4. ^ "Where you can recreate your favourite movie scenes in Queensland" by Sarah Motherwell, The Courier-Mail, 12 November 2015
  5. ^ "(facebook publication)". Gecko Environment Council. 22 January 2016. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  6. ^ Thise, Mark (2008). Hollywood Winners & Losers A to Z. Hal Leonard. p. 35. ISBN 9780879103514.
  7. ^ a b Groves, Don (10 October 1994). "'True Lies,' 'Gump' going strong o'seas". Variety. p. 16.
  8. ^ "Muriel's Wedding". Rotten Tomatoes.
  9. ^ "Muriel's Wedding". Metacritic.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (17 March 1995). "Muriel's Wedding Movie Review (1995)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  11. ^ Stack, Peter (17 March 1995). "Seeking Bliss, Muriel Finds Herself Instead / Sweet 'Wedding' comedy has substance". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  12. ^ Travers, Peter (10 March 1995). "Muriel's Wedding (review)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  13. ^ Australian Films at the Australian Box Office (PDF). Film Victoria (Report). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  14. ^ "Muriel's Wedding (1995) – Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. 1995. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  15. ^ "AACTA Awards Winners & Nominees, 1994". AACTA Awards. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  16. ^ "Film in 1996". BAFTA. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  17. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1996". www.goldenglobes.com. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  18. ^ Snetiker, Marc (13 October 2015). "How ABBA (and that 'Waterloo' scene) made it into 'Muriel's Wedding'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  19. ^ Hetrick, Adam (8 September 2016). "Muriel's Wedding Stage Musical Will Feature ABBA Songs". Playbill. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  20. ^ Gerard, Jeremy (8 September 2016). "Musical Muriel's Wedding Set To Become Global Creatures' Latest Stage Venture". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 8 September 2016.

External links[edit]