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So I Married An Axe Murderer (USA, 1993)


Director: Thomas Schlamme     Starring: Mike Myers, Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia, Amanda Plummer, Brenda Fricker

1993 was a good year for movies as far as I’m concerned. It saw the release of such timeless classics as Groundhog Day, True Romance, Falling Down, Dazed and Confused, A Bronx Tale and Demolition Man. Granted, the Super Mario Brothers movie may not have entered my psyche in as permanent a way, but Mike Myers’ post-Wayne’s World, So I Married An Axe Murderer certainly did. Perhaps my love of these films is rooted more in nostalgia for adolescence than the quality of the films. After all, how often have you gone to watch a tv show or movie you remember fondly from your youth only to be brutally disappointed when it turns out to be a bit crap (Knightrider, I’m looking at you. And Airwolf. And Streethawk). This was the thought foremost on my mind when I settled down for the first time in several years to watch Mike Myers’ serial killer comedy.

Sharing a similar vibe to Myer’s more famous Wayne’s World films it is the story of Charlie Mackenzie (Myers), a San Francisco poet struggling to find love in the face of an emotionally crippling fear of commitment. When he meets the enigmatic Harriet he is determined not to sabotage the relationship like he has all the others. As he gets to know her though her odd behaviour and some unlikely coincidences point to Harriet as the titular husband dispatching axe murderer leaving Charlie stuck in a rather precarious situation.

Haircuts and dress sense aside, So I Married An Axe Murderer has definitely survived the test of time. It’s a joyous celebration of why the world got behind Mike Myers in the first place, a reminder of a golden age long before the tedium of the Shrek franchise and the unmitigated crassness of The Love Guru. It’s funny. Hilarious even. There is a free flow of Myers’ trademark comedy, cheeky, sarky but well intentioned. Undoubtedly the greatest moments are when Charlie is with his family. Born to Scottish parents, there is  a presumably auto-biographical element to Myers’ performance as Charlie’s dad Stewart as he stomps about the house in a an outspoken, Glaswegian tirade of abuse aimed at his own children. It’s funny abuse though. It is so often the case, especially in America, that film makers get Scottish characters wrong. Yes, Stewart Mackenzie is a stereotype, but he’s the sort of stereotype you would expect to see in Chewin’ The Fat or Still Game (maybe even Absolutely), not in an American made comedy film. His smoking, hard drinking and brutal sense of humour (case in point: his eternal – and side splitting – references to the size of his youngest son’s head, a son he refers to as “Heid!” rather than by his name) are funny because they’re true. It’s brilliantly observed humour.

Elsewhere the jokes are just as good, even when they threaten to stumble back into Wayne’s World territory. In 1993 the source of Mike Myers’ power was clearly his slightly inexplicable charisma that meant he could get away with a certain level of cheeky irreverence that in other people would come across as horrendous sarcasm or outright bullying. This has faded with age, but here, preserved eternally in a celluloid ’93, he’s firing on all cylinders and most definitely getting away with it.

To me, this is the acceptable face of romantic comedy. More comedy than romance and distinctly lacking in the schmaltz and sentimentality that make most romcoms unwatchable garbage. It helps that the supporting cast is so good. Anthony LaPaglia as Charlie’s best friend Tony, Amanda Plummer as Harriet’s peculiar (does she ever play a normal person?) sister Rose and Brenda Fricker as Charlie’s equally demented mother are all outstanding. A brief Charles Grodin cameo is almost worth the cost of the DVD alone, as is Alan Arkin’s turn as Tony’s police precinct Captain. You’d have to be the most incompetent of incompetent idiots to assemble all these talented people in a single film and for it turn out badly. As it happens it turns out brilliantly.

Combine this with a super-nostalgic early nineties soundtrack (Spin Doctors anyone?) and you get a film that is not only a glorious trip down memory lane but also a lot of fun and hugely satisfying. Considering you can pretty much pick it up in DVD sales for less than a fiver there really is no excuse not to have seen it, especially if you are a fan of Myers. He don’t make ’em like this anymore…

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