A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the main character in this offbeat comedy is seriously misguided and makes really bad choices that hurt her family, though she ultimately reforms. Teens who feel like outcasts will identify with Muriel and some of the choices she makes, and the movie provides an opportunity to talk to teens about some urges they might have to change their lives. Several tragic events occur in the film, including a suicide, though nothing is graphically portrayed. Main characters smoke throughout the film, and several scenes of casual drinking occur. A few sexual scenes pop up, but only the sound effects are graphic, and there's no nudity.
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What's the story?
Muriel is a small-town Australian girl with low self esteem. She's awkward, chubby, and has an almost childlike approach to the world. But without a true sense of herself, Muriel finds herself hanging out with people who treat her badly. When Muriel meets Rhoda (Rachel Griffiths), an old classmate, on a clandestine vacation, they take off to Sydney to make their way in the world. Though Muriel still lives through Rhoda -- going to clubs and flirting with guys -- she makes progress toward becoming her own person. After Rhoda gets sick, Muriel finds a way to live out her dream of a fairy tale wedding, even though the guy is only in it for the immigration benefits. When her family situation turns tragic, she's shaken out of her fantasy world and becomes determined to stop lying to herself and others.
Is it any good?
Like so many Australian films, MURIEL'S WEDDING takes an unconventional approach to filmmaking -- both in its characters and its narratives. Muriel is flawed in so many ways and makes terrible choices throughout the film. As one awful friend tells her, "You have no dignity, Muriel." But despite the droopy mouth and terrible fashion choices, viewers see Muriel's unquenchable passion for life, her romantic dreams, her gutsy attempts to be someone special. This film is a poignant and still hilarious examination of how young people, especially girls, navigate the minefields of family, friends, media, and their own dreams.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about feelings of worthlessness or low self-esteem. What was Muriel's wedding obsession all about? Why did she invite those girls to be her bridesmaids?
What kinds of messages did Muriel receive from her family about her self worth? What does she realize in the end?
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