Tuesday, January 11, 2022

90's Re-Watch: Muriel's Wedding (1994)

Watched:  01/09/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  PJ Hogan

Back in the long, long ago Muriel's Wedding (1994) was a movie I watched over and over.  I'm not really sure why.  It's a good movie, it's funny, it's a bit moving here and there.  It seems like an odd thing for a 20 year old dude to decide he's going to watch over and over, but here we are.

But I also don't think I'd seen it again in two decades.  It's been a really long time and I don't recall owning it since VHS.  

An Australian made movie, it did bring Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths to the attention of American audiences when it arrived here (I think it was showing in Austin in Spring of 1995 and I watched it probably at The Dobie).  It was, in general, an interesting era for Australian and New Zealand film as it seemed like Campion was doing her thing, Peter Jackson was freaking everyone out, Pricilla, Queen of the Desert won hearts and minds, and Baz Luhrman's Strictly Ballroom was big for indie film fans.  

The movie also reminded a whole lot of us that Abba is pretty good, man.  I'd been introduced to them when I was a kid, but had sort of forgotten about them until this movie.  I don't know if this movie helped play a hand in the Abba renaissance that seemed to emerge in the 1990's, but it can't have hurt.  

Of course, the notion of finding a version of yourself that you can live with, and the people who will accept that version, may have resonated with me in ways I wasn't even fully in tune with in 1995, is a rock solid premise of a film, and you can do a lot with it.  

The movie itself is sort of hyper-real.  Character never feel divorced from reality, but it's all a little big or broad, and cartoonish, and that's part of the charm as they do discover character beats and arcs.  It's not a laugh-a-minute giggle fest.  But what Writer/ Director Hogan managed to do with his actors was create very memorable characters you felt for and wanted to spend time with, even if Muriel really is a little messed up in ways I'm not sure you saw in a lot of young female characters of the time.  She's not edgy in any way, she just does not have her shit together.  And Griffiths' high school girl who's resurfaced and figured herself out a bit feels very real in her way.

Probably the hardest thing for young women of today to grasp might be the notion that getting married is in itself a marker of success, an idea that was already a bit passe by the movie's release but understandable for Muriel in context of the era, especially as how she sees the *point* of marriage.  

I don't know if the movie is everyone's cup of tea, but I was delighted to go back to it.  And kind of mad it didn't occur to us (Jamie and I watched this a lot together when we started dating) to use Abba's "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" as part of our wedding ceremony.  

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