Netflix is taking me down a most unexpected nostalgia trip. So I Married an Axe Murderer is a movie I saw once in high school; my freshman math teacher gave us extra credit for watching what at the time was his favorite film, and still may be. We also got points for bringing in the previous night’s hockey scores, so you see why engineering was never going to work out for me.
Many years later, I find myself surprised by this offbeat romantic comedy, even though I never warmed to Mike Meyers’s humor. That’s not to say there will be a third screening, but the crazy pieces fall into place and it was nice to lose myself in this bananas plot. Meyers, who tinkered with the script, tones down his manic Saturday Night Live sensibilities, the ones that made him a hit on the show and that propelled him to Wayne’s World stardom.
He plays Charlie MacKenzie, a low-key San Francisco spoken word poet, insomuch as one can be low-key and a spoken word poet in San Francisco. Charlie’s proud Scottish family includes his father (also played by Meyers), mother (Brenda Fricker), and mop-headed little brother (Matt Doherty). Besides giving Meyers a chance to test run his Shrek voice, the family’s Scottish background leads Charlie to Harriet (Nancy Travis), a butcher whom he encounters when buying haggis. It’s safe to say that she’s the best looking meat dealer in town, and just like that, the two are dating. Commitment-phobe Charlie is eager to get things right this time, though when he does, he hesitates to take the relationship further.
Around this time, his mom clues him in on a National Enquirer story about a black widow, a nameless bride suspected of killing at least three of her husbands on their wedding night. Keep in mind this was before that venerable publication was bringing down presidential candidates with its relentless investigating. But Charlie’s an astute observer and begins to doubt his girlfriend’s intentions.
The movie could have benefited from more comedic moments. There are some clichéd romantic montages that don’t add much personality to the film or the characters. The humor sometimes defaults to the mainstream, though there are some truly zany bits that stand out, Charlie’s rendition of his classic poem “Whoa Man” is one. Also, the story promises a level of suspense that just isn’t there, which is kind of a let down if you’re a fan of the genre crossover.
The actors compensate with truly likable performances, however. Well, maybe likable doesn’t describe Amanda Plummer’s character so much; the actress makes crazy eyes playing Harriet’s high-strung sister. But Anthony LaPaglia as an easygoing sidekick, a cop and Charlie’s best friend, is fun to watch. I won’t say Travis is born to play this role, but she does have a disarming sweetness that makes you wonder if she’s hiding a dark secret. Meyers, chill but still funny and slightly eccentric, pulls the whole crew together.
Prod: Robert N. Fried, Cary Woods
Dir: Thomas Schlamme
Writer: Robbie Fox
Cast: Mike Myers, Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia, Amanda Plummer, Brenda Fricker, Matt Doherty, Charles Grodin, Phil Hartman
Time: 93 min
Country: United States