'Muriel's Wedding': THR's 1994 Review

Muriel's Wedding - H - 2020
It's funny, strange and, best of all, graced with strong human compassion.

On March 31, 1995, ten months after Muriel's Wedding screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Miramax brought it to theaters nationwide, where the dramedy starring Toni Collette would go on to gross $15 million. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below.

Muriel's Wedding has caught the audience bouquet at Cannes and, based on its enthusiastic reception here, is likely to march down the aisle with worldwide affection.

This Australian film is a romping, bittersweet comedy about a dowdy girl who dreams of getting married. Atypical of most popular movie fare, it doesn't center around a beautiful person performing a heroic deed.

Muriel is 22, pudgy, unemployed and lives at home under the roof of her blowhard, petty-bureaucrat father (Bill Hunter) and her three deadbeat siblings. Muriel is the "most useless" of the lot, she's constantly told by her nasty father. Muriel does have one dream on her mind — to get married.

Although she's never had a date, she pines for the big day, plastering her room with bridal pictures, while soothing her misery by listening to Abba and other 1970s sounds. Undeniably, she's a bit out of it, but she's also not "useless" and her heart is, perhaps, her biggest feature, in this gloriously goofy and tender scenario.

Screenwriter and director Paul J. Hogan (not to be confused with Crocodile' Dundee Paul Hogan) has fashioned a pleasing underdog story as Muriel goes about the business of getting a husband. It's funny, strange and, best of all, graced with strong human compassion. Visually, Muriel's Wedding is a bustling blend of wry humor and acerbic social satire.

Admittedly, there are minor missteps, some forced melodramatics, but, in general, this Australian film is a rare combination of raucous energy and tender comedy. As the girl with the altar on her mind, Toni Collette is wonderful, evincing both her inner pain and wide-eyed enthusiasms. Hunter is well-cast as her vainglorious father, while Daniel Lapaine does a fine turn as a swimmer with gold medals on his mind.

Technical contributions are a frothy delight, most lusciously Terry Ryan's dizzy production design and Peter Best's bouncing music. — Duane Byrge, originally published May 20, 1994.