This hugely influential feel-good comedy did more than launch its unknown female leads into international stardom. It also alerted Hollywood to the astonishing reservoir of untapped talent that lay in Australia's vibrant film industry.
To be fair, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" had already kicked off a craze for all things Antipodean. But while that movie's extravagant excesses might have been a turn-off for mainstream audiences, "Muriel's Wedding" was a flick everyone could love.
Toni Collette plays Muriel Hislop, an ugly duckling from Porpoise Spit, Australia who longs to have the white wedding of her dreams. She takes a step closer to her fantasy life when during an impromptu vacation she runs into old classmate Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths), a wacky headcase who shares her love of ABBA music.
With the help of Rhonda's sharp tongue, Muriel - renamed 'Mariel' - gradually breaks out of her shell. She also finds romance, of a sort, with David Van Arckle (Daniel Lapaine), a South African swimmer who needs an Australian passport to compete in the 1996 Olympics.
So far, so funny. But writer-director PJ Hogan has some unexpected twists in store before his quirky farce reaches its uplifting conclusion.
Collette (later Oscar-nominated for "The Sixth Sense") and Griffiths (similarly honoured for "Hilary and Jackie") make a terrific double act, while Hogan (shortly to land the prime gig of directing the Julia Roberts blockbuster "My Best Friend's Wedding") effortlessly steers his film between broad satire and more challenging, emotional waters.
"Muriel's Wedding" is on Channel 4 at 10.00pm, Sunday 28th January 2001.