Movie Review: So I Married an Axe Murderer

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A man becomes increasingly concerned that his new girlfriend may be a serial killer.

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Thomas Schlamme, 1993

Beat poet Charlie Mackenzie (Mike Myers) has some commitment issues. Every time he starts getting close to someone he’s dating, he invents reasons to break it off. It drives his best friend, frustrated and barely competent cop Tony Giardino (Anthony LaPaglia), up the wall. But when Charlie meets adorkable local butcher Harriet Michaels (Nancy Travis), he falls for her hard. Things get serious enough for him to take her to meet his family. His mother’s fondness for World News leads Charlie to an alarming discovery, however: there is a serial black widow in the USA whose husbands are all killed just after she marries them. Charlie starts seeing clues that lead him to the conclusion that Harriet might just be the killer the police are looking for, but given his history with women, will anyone believe him?

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So I Married an Axe Murderer is a strange sort of movie. I’m not just talking about the premise, which certainly has its own quirks. The entire aesthetic and style of the film is really weird, like a mix between an SNL sketch and a more traditional comedy. Most of this is down to Mike Myers in his dual roles as Charlie and his father Stuart; while everyone else plays it more or less straight, Myers frequently mugs for the camera. In fact, the cartoonish Stuart is almost more of a real character than Charlie, who seems to keep making asides to the audience in spite of the fact that direct-to-camera dialogue isn’t part of the film’s narrative style. It’s a weird and seemingly improve-heavy central performance that makes the whole film feel completely unpredictable. Fortunately, opposite Myers, Nancy Travis is completely adorable. In spite of the conceit of her role, she grounds the movie, making it completely believable that Charlie would be attracted to Harriet despite her odd intensity and possibly murderous tendencies. Anthony LaPaglia has fun as the best friend, particularly opposite Alan Arkin, who steals the show as a soft-hearted police chief who tries to act tough just to make his employee feel more like he’s in an episode of Starsky and Hutch. It’s the cutest freakin’ dynamic, and I could happily watch a whole movie about that.

While the jokes are hit and miss, the plot of this movie works pretty well on its own, moving at a decent pace to hold interest. Plenty of time is spent developing chemistry between Charlie and Harriet before any mention of axe murderers, including an extended sequence at Harriet’s butchery with a bunch of sight gags. Harriet and Charlie’s quirks compliment each other effectively. The beat poetry scenes are oddly entertaining, and the characters’ stranger qualities work well in the movie’s unpredictable format – like Tony’s obsession with 70s cop shows and failure to do stuff we see cops achieve easily in movies all the time, or Harriet breaking out different languages constantly. It would be a lot better with a different lead. Myers is so weaselly and off-putting in this film. He’s not a very good straight leading man, functioning much better when he has a big, silly character like Austin Powers or Wayne Campbell to play. Still, the movie is fun, and has its moments.

So I Married an Axe Murderer on IMDb

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