We asked some of our favourite authors to recap a classic romantic or romantic-comedy film, and see whether it lives up to the hype. Here Stella Quinn recaps 1994’s Muriel’s Wedding.
#1 the music
Picture this: you’re at a wedding, you’re two champers in after the post-wedding toasts, and the DJ just took over the stage after the bridegroom’s woeful speech. What does he play? Eighties tunes, of course, and nothing says eighties like ABBA. Nothing says swill back that drink, girlfriend, and hit the dance floor like ABBA.
We’ve all been there, right?
Muriel’s Wedding took the much-loved Aussie wedding tradition and spun it into a vengeance-fuelled karaoke scene that is impossible to watch without loving.
Some movie-music trivia for you: ABBA’s permission was a last-minute win for the producers of Muriel’s Wedding. Only two weeks prior to the commencement of shooting, the filmmakers were staring down the barrel at changing Muriel’s favourite band to The Village People.
#2 The oddball Aussie characters lurking in the background
So many epic characters. My favourite is Bill Hunter as dodgy mayor Bill Heslop.
Keep an eye out on your re-watch for his on-screen daughter Gabbie wearing his campaign re-election t-shirt 😊.
Deirdre, Bill’s mistress, is another cracker. She takes her career seriously – ‘I advise women on their lipstick’ – and check out her hair! Her bling! Her shoulder pads! In the restaurant scene, her hair is so bouffant, it is three times the height of her forehead. Three times.
#3 The BFF versus ‘group’ dynamic
The original mean girls were played with superbly honed bitchiness and not-so-passive aggression by Sophie Lee, Roz Hammond and Pippa Grandison. On Hibiscus Island they prowl about like bikini-clad wolverines.
The BFF relationship is where the movie’s darker heart is revealed, and the story element that eventually prompts Muriel (played by Toni Collette) to grow. When the movie begins, Muriel has been so put down by everyone around her that she’s lost her sense of self and thinks happiness revolves around being married … to anyone … by whatever means, fair or foul. Rhonda, played by Rachel Griffiths, is a standout as the gritty realist she meets on Hibiscus Island, snapping Muriel out of her confetti-haze.
#4 Porpoise Spit & pop culture gold
PJ Hogan, who wrote the script, set and filmed the story in the Coolangatta region. Those of us who grew up visiting the Gold Coast/Tweed area can’t see Porpoise Spit in this movie without feeling nostalgic for the houses … the clothes … the white trouser suits.
The movie’s special spark, in my opinion, is its unflinching but affectionate portrayal of the minutiae of family and suburban life. The dialogue is where these sparks really ignite.
Check out these faves –
Gabbie: ‘You’re terrible, Muriel.’
Rhonda: ‘Stick your drink up your arse, Tania.’
Muriel: ‘Now my life’s as good as an ABBA song.’
Bridal shop attendant to the very ill Rhonda: ‘You can’t come in here and threaten brides; I don’t care how unfortunate you are.’
Muriel’s Wedding is merciless, affectionate, brash and touching … it’s the perfect movie date for Throwback Thursday moment.
Check out these recent Australian books where the small-town characters are as fun and engaging as those in Muriel’s Wedding.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stella Quinn
Stella Quinn has had a love affair with books since she first discovered the alphabet. She lives in sunny Queensland now, but has lived in England, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea. Boarding school in a Queensland country town left Stella with a love of small towns and heritage buildings (and a fear of chenille bedspreads and meatloaf!) and that is why she loves writing rural romance. Stella is a keen scrabble player, she’s very partial to her four kids and anything with four furry feet, and she is a mediocre grower of orchids. An active member of Romance Writers of Australia, Stella has won their Emerald, Sapphire and Valerie Parv Awards, and finaled in their R*BY Romantic Book of the Year award.
You can find and follow Stella Quinn via her website.