SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER - The Spirit of the 90's
“So I Married an Axe Murderer” might have been a bomb, but it remains a fun critique of the early 90’s.
So I Married an Axe Murderer
Realease Date: July 30th, 1993
Date of My First Viewing: July 7th, 2019
Sometimes when I’m looking for a film to review for the “Movies New to Me” section of this site, I’ll turn on Plex, click on all the unwatched movies, and pick a decade. I was feeling in the mood for something from the 90’s, and I stumbled upon a film that has the 90’s just pouring out of every inch of celluloid. That film is “So I Married an Axe Murderer”, the 1993 Mike Myers vehicle from director Thomas Schlamme. This is a movie that I’ve never really had that much of an inkling to watch as I always knew it was a bomb. The critical reviews were also pretty mixed so that was another reason I’ve avoided it. Myers can also be, well, overbearing in his films. I’m looking at you “Austin Powers” and “The Love Guru”.
When I did finally sit down to watch it on a lazy Sunday evening, I was pleasantly surprised. Myers, of course, is doing all the heavy lifting in the film, but he’s rather restrained compared to what his films would become. The first 2/3’s of the movie are also really good, structurally speaking, before things kind of come apart in the last act. What really stood out to me, though, was the direct and subtle jabs at early 90’s culture. As someone who grew up during that time, I’m always on board with taking that time down a peg. Myers doing it in real time is, frankly, rather impressive.
For those who do not know the plot, “So I Married an Axe Murderer” tells the story of Charlie MacKenzie (Mike Myers), a beat poet (!) in San Francisco, who is having women issues. He happens upon a friendly butcher named Harriet (Nancy Travis), and the two hit it off quickly. The romance turns serious, but Charlie starts getting vibes that, well, Harriet might be serial killer. He gets this after reading a tabloid at his parents’ house (Brenda Fricker and, yes, Mike Myers). Harriet’s past checks all the boxes of the mysterious “Mrs. X” so Charlie begins to get cold feet. The relationship ebbs and flows until the two get married, and Charlie thinks his wedding night will also be the last night he ever has.
That’s the basic gist of the film, although I did leave out a couple of key points… mostly because they’d probably spoil the “big reveal” of the movie. There is a twist at play here, but I’m not sure how well it played out when the movie was released. I’m guessing a lot of people saw it coming a mile away, but I could be wrong. The twist does give the last act of the film a bit of steam, but a lot of the humor associated with it kind of falls flat.
The strengths of “So I Married an Axe Murderer” really are Myers having fun with the absurdities of the early 90’s and doing character work. The riffs on coffee house culture in San Francisco are great, especially when you consider “The Real World: San Francisco” would be filming in the same spots shortly after this film. I’m sure it wasn’t mean as a goof, but watching a film set in the early 90’s and featuring The Spin Doctors on the soundtrack will always get a laugh from me. You couldn’t find a more “early 90’s/non-threatening” band than them. Hell… the whole soundtrack is a collection of unintentional hilarity in retrospect.
As mentioned, the other real strength of “So I Married an Axe Murderer” is Myers doing character work, especially the role of Stuart MacKenzie. The character is a riff on his “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap” character from Saturday Night Live and would definitely be a foundation for what he did with Fat Bastard in the “Austin Powers” films. In this movie, though, Myers does his best attempt at an angry Scottish character. Stuart insulting everyone and barking out rapid fire orders did get several laughs from me.
I must also add this film, by virtue of Myers comedic ties, features a bevy of great performances in bit parts. The two standouts are the late great Phil Hartman as a tour guide on Alcatraz and comedian Steven Wright as an airplane pilot. Both are hilarious in their brief roles.
“So I Married an Axe Murderer”, much like the early 90’s isn’t doing anything new or groundbreaking, although the nearby Alcatraz as a metaphor for marriage and Charlie’s fear of being locked down was interesting. It’s still a pretty fun and easy watch, especially with a run time of only 93 minutes. Don’t expect anything visually striking, but, hey, that’s in line with the visual aesthetics of the time. The early 90’s were a dark and weird time. It’s impressive Myers understood that as they were happening.