Muriel finds life in Porpoise Spit, Australia dull and spends her days alone in her room listening to Abba music and dreaming of her wedding day...
Australian filmmakers have a knack for feelgood comedy - witness such surprise sleepers as Crocodile Dundee and Strictly Ballroom. This latest addition to the crop, however, dares to be different, introducing social drama into an otherwise featherlight, adorably sweet tale of self-discovery, and although it doesn't quite gel, director Hogan at least deserves praise for trying.
Muriel Heslop (Collette) is a frumpy, plump 22-year-old who lives for her ABBA collection and fantasies of a huge white wedding. The problem is, though her home town of Porpoise Spit is no nuptial haven, her family have hopeless written in their genes, and her beautiful, bitchy gang of so-called friends have a habit of sending her self-esteem straight down the pan.
Taking matters into her own hands, she hooks up with old school chum Rhonda (Griffiths) and runs away to Sydney in an attempt to turn those bridal pipe dreams into a reality and make something of her otherwise mundane life. Needless to say, things don't go exactly to plan, and the twosome go through a collection of beautifully observed comic set-pieces before a series of tragic occurrences threaten to destroy Muriel's new-found freedom for good.
For the most part this is works a treat, layered with crisp comic moments skilfully delivered by its largely unknown cast. Unfortunately, the frequent dramatic flashes eventually give way to a catalogue of events so depressing they sit rather uncomfortably alongside the film's ripe, wacky Aussie feel.
There's a high enough feelgood factor here to compensate for the detours off the comedy highway, and what ultimately emerges is a gently funny, thoroughly entertaining tale that should have no trouble making friends.