Socially awkward and overweight, Muriel Heslop (Toni Collette) finds life in her Porpoise Spit, Australia, boring. Obsessed with the music of ABBA, Muriel, she daydreams of leaving on a tropical vacation and having a glamorous wedding. Sadly, Muriel’s real life is far different. She is the target of ridicule by the more fashion-conscious girls she considers her friends and her father, Bill (Bill Hunter) is psychologically abusive.
After Bill discovers Muriel has used a blank check to steal money to finance a vacation at a tropical resort, she leaves her family in their coastal town to set up house in Sydney with her carefree, hedonistic friend Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths). In Sydney, she follows her dream, only to discover more of life’s realities.
Although ostensibly a comedy, Muriel’s Wedding deals with serious coming of age 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.
Although I don’t have a penchant for shoplifting, pathological lying or frankly caring what the other girls think, I was hooked on Muriel Heslop, hook, line and sinker. She epitomizes so many of the issues that young girls who are growing up while also painfully growing out deal with, and yet, as other reviewers have commented, she puts the pretty, slim girls to total shame. They seem to have everything she wants: a trim figure, a handsome (but usually cheating) boyfriend or husband, an upper middle class living, etc., but they don’t have the heart of our Muriel.
Character to watch: Toni Collette as Muriel Heslop.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?