Matchup of the Day: Muriel’s Wedding vs. The Wizard of Oz
This time around we have two protagonists who discover their real heart’s desire – Muriel’s Wedding vs. The Wizard of Oz.
Both films are about a person who dreams of being somewhere else. In Muriel’s Wedding the title character lives an aimless life in Porpoise Spit, Australia. Her councilman father thinks she’s useless and her “friends” constantly criticize her. Plus she has a shoplifting problem. In order to keep her spirits up, Muriel listens to music of ABBA on her cassette player, and dreams of marrying her ideal man. When her friends ditch her to go on a trip to a resort island, Muriel is crushed. That is, until one of her father’s friends offers her a job selling cosmetics. Instead of using the money her parents give her to buy supplies, though, Muriel heads off to the island as well.
Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, as most people know, lives in B&W colored Kansas. Life would be idyllic, if not for the mean Miss Gulch who has it out for Dorothy’s dog Toto. Gulch claims that Toto bit her and wants to have him destroyed. This leads Dorothy to wonder if there is a place “somewhere over the rainbow” where she can escape her troubles. Not long after, a cyclone comes tearing along and carries away Dorothy’s house with her and Toto in it. They end up in the Technicolor land of Oz.
Muriel runs into a woman she went to highschool with, Rhonda, who is also on vacation. They bond over their mutual dislike for the girls who ditched Muriel and perform “Waterloo” by ABBA at a talent show. When Muriel returns home, her mother confronts her about spending the cosmetics money. She hurriedly leaves to avoid facing up to what she did. Muriel ends up living in Sydney (which is nicknamed the “Emerald City” according to Wikipedia) with Rhonda.
Dorothy immediately wants to return Kansas. Unfortunately, her house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, and her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West (henceforth WWW), is hot for revenge. Making matters worse, the Good Witch of the North, Glinda, magically transfers the ruby slippers from the dead witch’s feet to Dorothy’s. This angers WWW even more. She vows to get even with Dorothy and Toto, too. After WWW leaves, Glinda tells Dorothy that she must travel to the Emerald City and ask to the Wizard of Oz for assistance returning home. She sets off down the yellow brick road.
Muriel goes on a spree trying on wedding gowns throughout Sydney pretending that that she’s going to be married. Meanwhile, Rhonda finds out that she has a tumor on her spine and will no longer be able to walk. Muriel’s father wants her to return to Porpoise Spit to work off the money she stole. Rhonda’s mother also wants her to come back to Porpoise Spit. Desperate for money, Muriel agrees to marry a South African Olympic swimmer with visa problems so he can stay in the country. His parents offer $10,000 for the service. Much to Muriel’s delight, the swimmer is strikingly handsome. She takes the whole wedding seriously even though it is entirely for show.
Dorothy meets the Wizard of Oz, who sends her on a quest to steal WWW’s broomstick in return for sending her home. Dorothy defeats WWW and brings him what he asked for. The Wizard, however, just gives her the runaround. That is, until Toto exposes that the Wizard is a regular man whose power is just a blustery illusion. Dorothy realizes that, despite the seeming wonders of Oz, she had all the support she needed at home. By going her adventure, this becomes clear to her. Dorothy clicks together her ruby slippers and returns to Kansas.
Muriel becomes famous for marrying the Olympic swimmer. Her friends that treated her poorly start acting nice to her so they can share the spotlight. Rhonda doesn’t approve. When Muriel’s mother unexpectedly dies, she begins to see how harmful her deceptive behavior has been. She realizes that her friendship with Rhonda is what is truly important and asks for a divorce. The film ends with Muriel and Rhonda leaving Porpoise Spit once and for all to live in Sydney. ABBA’s song “Dancing Queen” plays as they drive off.