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Critic's Pick

'Muriel's Wedding'

June 07, 1998|Kenneth Turan

Marriage is the event Muriel wants so much to happen but fears never will. Played with take-no-prisoners comic enthusiasm by Toni Collette (pictured), 22-year-old Muriel Heslop is the kind of hapless young woman who wears a shoplifted leopard-skin dress to a wedding--and gets caught by the store detective. Overweight, with bad skin, a braying laugh and a frighteningly wide grin, aggressively unattractive Muriel is known locally in Porpoise Spit for saying and doing the wrong things. Collette has the courage not to shortchange Muriel's more off-putting qualities while revealing her indomitable spirit. Writer-director P.J. Hogan has come up with a slashing guerrilla attack on accepted notions of marriage, family and self-improvement that never allows us to forget the doubt that makes its characters human (KTLA Monday at 2 a.m.).

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