‘The film begins at the wedding of Tania as she throws a bouquet to a group of waiting girls. It sets up the expectation that whoever catches it will become the next bride.
Bouquet is caught by Muriel. The girls bully Muriel because she has never had a boyfriend and no-one will want her to marry her. They want her to hand the bouquet to the more suitable Cheryl. Comic irony is Muriel is the least attractive and large one of the group. It provides a hook to see how she will end up married. Tension is raised as she is pressured to hand over the bouquet that shows the spoilt characters of the girls and the low self esteem Muriel.
Muriel hands the bouquet over to Cheryl as instructed but Cheryl bursts into tears and admits she broke up with Shane, her boyfriend. As they all rush to help Cheryl, Nicole flirts with the new groom. We see even though the girls are popular they are not nice people. Their perfect world can fall apart. Even the bride who seems to have it all is not happy. Irony is that they want Cheryl to have the bouquet but she no longer has a boyfriend.
Women continue to bully Muriel that she has not even bought her own dress, which Muriel denies. This is the first indication of Muriel’s flaw that she lies in order to stay popular and be who she wants to be rather than who she is.
Muriel takes a piece of wedding cake and is told to put a piece under her pillow and dream of her future husband. She meets a friend of her Dad’s, Leo Higgins who asks to be remembered to him. The wedding cake is a slam against her psychological wound that she feels worthless and no-one will ever marry her. Leo Higgins is the first indication of the character of Muriel’s father who has a tendency to take bribes.
Store detective at the wedding recognises the dress Muriel is wearing. Muriel has shoplifted the dress as her flaw of being dishonest surfaces again.
Muriel finds Nicole and Chook, the groom, having sex downstairs at Tania’s wedding. This shows the dishonest characters of the group. Even though they appear to have it all they are unable to stop themselves. Highlights the theme, people lie to get what they want.
Police arrive after being called by the store detective and arrest Muriel. Store detective had a perfect record before Muriel got away and she was there as the grooms cousin. This is part of the opening scenes highlights the dishonesty of Muriel and how her lies are affecting others. Comic irony is that the dress she stole was worn at the same place as the store detective. It also highlights the small community where Muriel lives where everybody knows everybody.
The sign shows ‘Porpoise Spit’ Jewel of the South Coast. This is ironic sign about where Muriel lives, a close dysfunctional community.
Practical house of Muriel seems cramped with Penelope, Muriel’s sister, dancing interrupting her Dad who is on the phone talking about the council approving some business. Mum is in the kitchen and told to make tea for everyone. Rest of the children are watching television. This highlights the dysfunctional home life of Muriel and the characters of the family. Dad is wheeling and dealing trying to better himself while Mum is left to do all the chores and is ordered round like a slave. Laziness of most of the children is evident as Dad talks down to them all.
Muriel returns home with the Police. Dad asks her if she stole the dress as she has not had a job for two years. She lies that Mum gave her the money. Her Mum has to deny it. She is told to find the receipt. This is a slam against the wound of Muriel which causes her to lie. She feels useless and is made to feel bad by the questioning. Her defence is to lie. Mum finds herself caught between Dad and Muriel. She wants to believe Muriel but knows it’s not true.
Joanie, Muriel’s sister, tells Muriel she is terrible. Joanie’s character trait is she can see the truth of the situation and tells her so.
Muriel returns to her room as Dad looks after the policemen. He knows their Dad. Muriel listens to Dancing Queen, the Abba track and admires pictures of weddings. Her Dad has many connections and is not ashamed to use them. He is buttering up the Policemen so they will not press charges. Muriel’s dream is to get married so it proves she is not worthless. Abba lyrics seem to encourage Muriel on her journey.
Police leave with beer after Dad has charmed them. Dad’s character has bribed the policemen to let Muriel off. This is the example he sets his children which has led to Muriel’s problems.
At a Chinese restaurant Muriel and her family, are having a meal with two of Dad’s business associates. Dad introduces them to the Charlie Chan owner of the restaurant who mentions Bill helped his Uncle leave China by talking to immigration. The business associates are talking about building a resort. Dad suggests they could need a Chinese restaurant. This highlights Dad’s character of being a dodgy dealer always looking to better himself. The fact he helped Charlie Chan’s Uncle leave China suggests corruption.
Dad continues to talk down to his children while Mum half heartedly sticks up to them. Dad highlights the fact Muriel is on the dole. Muriel defends herself by saying she has an interview at a Locksmith. Dad brings up the fact he paid for her typing diploma but she still cannot type. Dad continues to slam Muriel’s wound of feeling worthless. She lies that she can type and the interview is probably made up too. Dad talks down to the whole family in an attempt to boost his own ego. Dad lost the election by a postal vote and blames his family. Tension is between Dad and the rest of the family.
Deidre Chambers arrives and joins them at the table. She is a beauty consultant and takes over the conversation. Mum looks worried about the presence of Deidre. Deidre is playing her own game. They all seem to be out for their own needs. Mum is lying to herself about the state of her family. Dad and Deidre are lying about carrying on together. Deirdre pretends to befriend the family but does not listen to them.
Deidre offers Muriel a job selling cosmetics. This is the set-up to the inciting incident that is the catalyst for Muriel to change her life.
Muriel looks into a wedding dress shop. Her goal is to become a bride so she can say she is not worthless.
At the club Tania is upset as she has broken up with her new groom, Chook, as he was having an affair. We find out the affair is with Rose Biggs. More lies destroy the lives of Tania and her new groom. Audience knows the groom has been unfaithful as they and Muriel saw him with Nicole on the wedding day. The twist comes when it turns out to be Rose Biggs.
The girls have arranged to go on holiday unknown to Muriel and want Tania to forget her honeymoon and come with them. Muriel is unaware of the holiday and tells them she is now a beauty consultant. Plot of the story enables them all to meet on holiday. At this point Muriel still feels part of the group and is bettering herself.
Girls tell Muriel they have something to tell her but let her finish her drink first. Then tell her they do not want her to mix with them, she in un-cool and different to them. She is not on their level. Tania cries over chook. Muriel cries over being dumped and embarrasses them. This slams the sound of Muriel because she thinks she is worthless and the girls make her feel like she is. Muriel does not act like them so is thrown out the group.
Back at Muriel’s home, Perry plays in the garden with a carton as a football as Dad tells his off. Dad is upset Perry is not joining the police. Dad tells Mum to give Muriel a blank cheque for Muriel to pay for the cosmetics from Deirdre. Highlights again the lack of encouragement Dad gives his children. The blank cheque provides the opportunity for the inciting incident to change Muriels life.
Mum talks to Muriel about rumours about Dad and Deirdre that Mum does not believe are true. She writes Muriel a blank cheque for cash. Muriel sees the opportunity to leave her life and be a success. Mum continues to support her while lying to herself about her husband.
Now on Hibiscus Island, the group of girls are having a good time singing. They are shocked when they see Muriel and warn her off and throw a drink in her face. Muriel has taken the cash from the blank cheque and joined the girls on holiday. This is the inciting incident that means Muriel’s actions, means her life will never be the same. It makes it impossible for her to return to her previous life. It also shows her determination to still be part of the group.
At dinner Rhonda recognises Muriel. Muriel denies who she is then pretends she is engaged. Muriel and Rhonda form a friendship and discuss the bad schooldays. Muriel points out Tania and pals are on the same holiday. Rhonda represents one sub-plot of the movie and represents the opportunity for Muriel to escape her life. In some ways Rhonda and Muriel are alike although Rhonda is open, carefree and honest. She represents to Muriel how a person can get with their own life without the need to lie. She encourages Muriel to be herself.
Next morning Rhonda confronts Tania and the girls on holiday and tells Tania that Muriel saw Nicole having sex with Chook on their wedding day. Rhonda is a contrast to the lies of Muriel and tells the truth unafraid of the consequences. Rhonda turns down the opportunity to join the pretty girls in favour of Muriel which provides good comic irony. The cracks start to appear in the perfect sisterhood of the girls.
Next Rhonda and Muriel sing Waterloo in the talent contest while a fight breaks out between Nicole and Tania. Muriel and Rhonda celebrate winning the talent competition. Lyrics to Waterloo are very apt as Muriel and Rhonda appear to have won war against the bullies. They faced the enemy and defeated them. They are destined to be together.
At home Muriel’s family eat at the Chinese with Leo Higgins, man from the wedding. Muriel has sent them a postcard telling them lies about selling cosmetics. Dad and Mum are impressed not knowing the truth about her stealing the money. Deidre Chambers arrives. Later Deidre tells Dad that Muriel did not get the money from selling cosmetics. Leo Higgins was a pay off from the original wedding scene hinting Dad is involved in more dodge deals. It shows that Dad and Mum would be impressed if Muriel was a success holding Muriel up as a good example. Dad and Deidre appear to be closer.
On Hisbiscus island Muriel and Rhonda talk after their celebrations. Muriel talks of being famous. They sing Fernando together. Muriel confesses aloud sometimes she thinks she is nothing and useless. Rhonda disagrees because she is engaged. Lyrics of the song Fernando fit the situation in that they have no regrets. Muriel is facing up to her wound like she is ready to address it. But still lies to Rhonda about her situation not ready to let her guard down.
Muriel returns home in a taxi with a photo of her and Rhonda. Muriel is met by Joanie and Mum both worried for Muriel because money was stolen from Mum’s bank account. Muriel denies taking the money then sneaks away in a taxi. Muriel starts to believe her life can be better with Rhonda. But she lies to her Mum about the money showing her flaw. She feels her destiny is with Rhonda and escapes her old life and the Porpoise Spit community for Sydney.
In Sydney Muriel works in a video store and watches a video of Princess Diana. Brice Nobes is in the shop and arranges to go a date. Muriel is at the point of no return unable to go back to her old life. She watches the video wishing it was her getting married in a big ceremony. Brice represents her new life as he is unaware of the past of Muriel and likes her for who she is. She feels she has already changed as she now has a job.
Muriel tells Rhonda her old fiancé was a cop and she is on the run from him after jilting him. She has changed her name to Mariel. The change of name is to distance herself from the person she used to be. But the fact she continues to lie to Rhonda shows the wound has not healed and shows her flaw.
Muriel and Rhonda go to a club with Brice. Rhonda gets off with a couple of American men and goes home with them. Muriel and Brice dance although Brice struggles with his moves. Rhonda is shown to be an all out party girl, the perfect person to bring Muriel out of her shell. Brice and Muriel are a well matched couple although Brice is awkward in character and far from the Prince Charming Muriel has been dreaming of.
Back at Muriel’s flat Rhonda can be heard having a good time with the Americans. Brice and Muriel settle for a cup of tea. News shows the island of Hisbiscus has been flooded. Muriel’s dad appears on t.v. appealing for her to come home. Brice admits he is a parking inspector then gets frisky and undresses Muriel but undoes the cushion instead of Muriel’s trousers. He knocks over the bird cage and the American’s come out the bedroom and attack Brice thinking he is causing trouble. Rhonda joins the party until she collapses in the corner. Ironic comic contrast between Rhonda and Muriel is shown as they both go about things differently. Irony is present with the flood of Hibiscus island and Dad appearing on the t.v. just as Muriel is about to make out with Brice. The comic irony in that Brice is a parking inspector, shows he has an unpopular occupation, not the perfect man for Muriel’s dream groom. Rhonda collapsing is a pivotal point that offers a sinister twist in the story.
The ambulance is shown then Muriel waits in the hospital. She phones home and speaks to Joanie who tells her Dad had to take bribes and has moved out due to the inquiry. Dad is visiting Sydney too. Muriel admits to her Mum she took the money. Mum is cut off as Police raid her house. Muriel starts to admit to her flaw as she phones home to face the music only to hear about the problems she has caused behind.
Doctor tells Muriel and Rhonda that Rhonda has a discreet cancerous tumour that needs operating on and that it could risk damage to the spinal chord. The care free life of Rhonda is being challenged and the new life of Muriel has been threatened. It provides an obstacle to Muriel achieving her goal.
Muriel visits a wedding dress shop and pretends she is a bride to try on a dress. She tells them her Mum is in hospital so they will take a photo of her in the dress. Back at home she puts the photos in a wedding album. Muriel continues on her goal to marry but continues to lie so has not overcome her flaw.
Rhonda has rehab to help her walk again while Muriel supports her as she gets angry. Muriel promises to stay with her as Rhonda allowed Muriel to have a new life so she no longer listened to Abba songs. Rhonda wants a promise she will not go back to Porpoise Spit. The one thing Rhonda clings to is, to be able to stay in Sydney which will test Muriel later. Muriel fools herself that she has changed by the fact she no longer listens to Abba.
As Muriel visits more wedding shops, Rhonda finds her wedding albumn and heads to find her. She confronts her in a wedding shop trying on a wedding dress. Muriel opens up and tells Rhonda, her fiancé was a lie. She wants to get married to prove she has changed. She refuses to go back to the Muriel in Porpoise Spit. Muriel faces her flaw and admits to the lies. She reveals the wound that still hurts, that she feels worthless underneath, in the hope this will help heal it.
Dad contacts Muriel and she meets him in Sydney at a restaurant. He confronts her about the money and she tells him she has changed her name and cannot go home. Deirdre Chambers arrives and admits she is with Muriel’s Dad. Comic irony is that the low self esteem issues in Muriel caused by her Dad have affected his own life now. He continues to see the bad in everyone. His disloyalty to his wife means he has moved on with Deidre. Muriel clings on to the idea of staying in Sydney as she refuses to go back to her old life.
Back in the flat Rhonda smokes alone in the dark. Muriel returns home to find her. Rhonda tells Muriel she needs an operation to cut her spinal chord and she will not walk again. Rhonda’s Mum wants to bring her back to Porpoise Spit but Rhonda wants to stay with Muriel. Another twist in the plot and Muriel is even further from her goal of getting married. Irony is Rhonda wants to stay with Muriel but Muriel overlooks this friendship.
Muriel finds an advert in a paper for a man looking for a bride. She meets David at a pool with his swimming coach. He needs to get married for his chance to compete in the Olympics for Australia because he is South African. David is not keen on marrying Muriel as they have nothing in common. Muriel agrees to marry for money and lie about the marriage. Irony is Muriel is the perfect person to marry David because of her flaw of lying. On the surface the marriage to give David would give all Muriel is looking for. She can show everyone she can get married.
Muriel returns to the flat and listens to Abba music. Irony is that even though Muriel has gone on a journey she has not changed at all. She maybe about to achieve her goal but she has not grown, not healed her flaw and inside still has the wound of feeling worthless.
Mariel’s wedding is shown as a big ceremony with Rhonda, family and friends. Rhonda unhappy with the way she has been treated sits in the corner. Tania and the other girls from Porpoise Spit are the bridesmaids. Rhonda tells them about her cancer. Tania announces she is divorcing Chook. Muriel is in all the papers. David is shown to be unhappy with the size of the wedding. Muriel’s Dad still defends his bribery charges. Muriel’s Mum does not arrive in time. Muriel looks beautiful but is questioned if the marriage is for convenience. Bryce also attends. Wedding march is Abba’s ‘I do I do I do.’ Irony is Muriel’s wedding day is a farce. She has gone on this long journey to show everyone. But the persons, who supported her, like Rhonda and her Mum, are not interested or arriving late. Groom is taking part to achieve his own dream. It is Muriel’s dream to get married but it is all for show. Other matters like the bribery charges for her Dad and convenience questions about the marriage hang over the wedding like a dark shadow. Even the bridal march is an ABBA song.
David and Muriel marry and leave the church to celebrate. They ignore Muriel’s Mum who has arrived late and sat at the back. Dad and Deidre have become the parents. Muriel finds Rhonda outside the church and brags about the bridesmaids and how famous she is now. Rhonda tells her she has to go back to Porpoise Spit as Muriel left her on her own to pay the rent. Muriel gives Rhonda air tickets and the bridesmaids wheel Rhonda off. The irony is it should be Muriel’s Mum’s proudest day but she was forced to go by bus and forgotten in church. Muriel has forgotten Rhonda in her haste to get married and rubs salt in the wound by paying for plane tickets. She has achieved her goal but lost her best friend. Rhonda tells her like it is but she can not see it.
Muriel and David return to his high spec flat. David’s parents did not attend the wedding but paid for it. David and Muriel have separate rooms. He asks her why she married for money. He married her to win. She did the same. Irony is even though Muriel was the bride her Dad did not pay for the wedding but was happy to get rid of her. Muriel and David are similar because they wanted to win at any cost. Muriel got her wedding and David his chance at the Olympics.
Back in Porpoise Spit, Muriel’s Mum shops but forgets to pay for shoes she tries on. Store detective spots her. Back in the small community irony is it is the same store detective that caught Muriel with her dress. Mum is also the most honest character who had been caught. Strain of Dad and Deirdre has taken it’s toll. She is left with the children who have been made to think they are useless by Dad.
Dad rescues Mum from the Police by pulling another favour. Mum asks her help but Dad tells her he wants a divorce and he will marry Deirdre. Dad blames his family for his problems. Dad’s character shown again to get Mum off but he is selfish and ignore her cry for help and refuses to blame himself.
Mum takes out her frustration out on Perry and tells him to get a job. Mum is no longer lying to herself but unable to cope as Perry has become like his Dad.
Back in David’s flat Muriel watches her own wedding video as David swims in the pool. Muriel’s sister rings to tell her Mum has died. Muriel has only the wedding memories to cling onto. She has lost her friendship to Rhonda and David lives a separate life with his swimming. Irony is she should be on honeymoon but that is shattered by the news of her Mum.
Muriel returns to home where Deidre is cleaning the house, her sister is on the phone and Perry is in the armchair. Deidre tells Muriel her Mum had a heart attack and will help her Dad on his bribery charges. Muriel sees the garden has been burnt by Mum. Joannie tells Muriel Mum took an overdose and shows her Mum’s photo album with pictures of Muriels wedding. Dad wanted to hide the overdose. Irony is life continues after Mum with Deidre stepping into the role she had already assumed. Irony also that her death means Dad will get sympathy in his bribery charges. Burnt garden shows that Mum had given up on life. But the photo album showed there were still things she loved. Irony also that Dad is still protecting himself by doing deals to hide the overdose.
At Mum’s funeral there is a telefax from the Prime Minister. Dad wants to journalist to report it and brags he arranged it. Vicar announces Mum’s highlight was Muriel’s wedding. Muriel is unable to face anymore and leaves the service where she meets David who offers his condolences. Irony is even though his wife has died Dad is still being selfish and seeking notoriety for himself. Also ironic that the one thing Mum loved was Muriel’s wedding which Muriel now recognises as the farce it was and just for show.
Muriel and David return to the hotel. Muriel admits she thought she had changed but realises she has become like her Dad and lying all the time. David and Muriel sleep with each other. When they wake Muriel tells him she can not stay married and has to stop the lies. She returns his ring and leaves. She wishes him good luck in the games and he says you too. Muriel realises her flaw in lying and decides to finally address it. Irony is that vulnerability in her released makes her more attractive person to David. But they have different goals in life and must go separate ways.
At home, Dad tells Muriel she has to stay, Deidre may not marry him and he needs help with the kids. Muriel pays him back his money and tells him to look after them and not tell them they are useless. Dad is unemployed and rues his lost chances but declares you reap what you sow. Muriel is addressing the problems caused by her flaw in lying about the money. She can now fix her wound and move on with her life with a clean slate. Irony is Dad is now unemployed and starting to blame himself for missed opportunities.
Rhonda has settled back in Porpoise Spit with her Mum and chats with the bridesmaids who are all friends with Rose Biggs. Muriel arrives and offers to take Rhonda back to Sydney because she is her friend. Rhonda’s Mum objects. But Rhonda agrees and leaves with Muriel. Small community of Porpoise Spit is shown in this scene and Rhonda hates having to fit in. Muriel now sees that Rhonda tells the truth and is a true friend and wants to help her. They both say goodbye to Porpoise Spit ready for a new and better life for both of them.