Monday, July 20, 2009

“I'm not kidding, that boy's head is like Sputnik; spherical but quite pointy at parts!”

Wow, the Big Twenty. That’s pretty awesome. To celebrate, how about a movie I’ve never seen before: the 1993 Mike Myers comedy So I Married an Axe Murderer. I don’t have much of a preface for it except that it comes from a time when the world had Wayne’s World Mike Myers, and not The Love Guru Mike Myers.

A young slacker living on the West Coast (bear with me, it’s the 90s so you might have to stretch the imagination) is terrible at relationship commitment, resulting in normally being single. Things change when he meets an attractive young woman that he clicks with, but then circumstances lead him to suspect that she might be a serial killer. Hilarity ensues for 93 minutes.

Charlie Mackenzie: Charlie is (apparently) a poet in San Francisco who frequents an coffee house with an open mic night kind of deal. Charlie doesn’t do commitment well, and his friends and family keep ragging on him for that. His arc kicks in when he meets Harriet and starts dating her and realizes he doesn’t want to let this one go. Complications set in when little coincidental evidence starts piling up that his new girlfriend might be a serial killer. Myers is funny and likable in the film, throwing out amusing dialog. He gets better when it comes to the scenes where he’s terrified of his girlfriend but doesn’t want her to suspect that he suspects. He also drives a VW Kharman Ghia convertible, which is a pretty sweet ride.

Harriet Michaels: Nancy Travis is the love interest. Charlie first meets her when he stops into the butcher shop she works in for some haggis for his dad. When he eventually returns, they hit it off and start going out. But there’s… something she’s keeping from her new boyfriend.

Tony: Charlie’s best friend and an undercover cop/detective. Gradually grows in importance during the film as things take a turn for the criminal. Gets a great moment where he’s complaining to his captain that being a cop isn’t what he expected: too much paperwork, not enough gunfights, commandeering civilian cars and being yelled at by the chief to reign it in or he’ll have his badge. The captain is a friendly, sympathetic fellow played by Alan Arkin, who calls back to that initial scene with a fantastic payoff scene.

Rose: Harriet’s sister. Charlie meets her quite awkwardly after spending the night at Harriet’s loft. She’s a bit creepy in her friendliness to Charlie.

May Mackenzie: Charlie’s mom, a horny old dame with the hots for Tony. Her reading of the Weekly World News is what first plants the seeds of doubt in Charlie’s head.

Stuart Mackenzie: Mike Myers again, this time as Charlie’s cantankerous, conspiracy theorizing, extraordinarily Scottish father. Stuart is the unquestionable badass of the film for constantly swearing, drinking, shouting and verbally abusing his younger son “Heed” for his very large cranium. The Scottish accent that Myers uses in this film is pretty much the same as the one for Shrek and Fat Bastard, but here its, well, it predates them, so its more original and charming.

There are also a large number of cameos from various actors like Steven Wright, Phil Hartman & Charles Grodin (the dad from Beethoven) among others.

Visuals (Direction/Effects)
Directed by Thomas Schlamme, who’s done a lot of television work, the movie makes numerous subtle and not-so-subtle references to cop and murder movies. There are some nice scenes, but ultimately, the visuals are subservient to the story and the comedy, playing up the tense scenes intentionally for laughs.

The script by Robbie Fox does a great job of showcasing Myers’ comedic chops. Granted, some of the scenes with Myers hamming it up with some deliberately bad jokes grated on me a little bit, but nothing game breaking. Also, the side characters, like Tony, get some great funny spotlighting, and the whole movie moves along at a nice clip.

I hope you like the Boo Radleys. Seriously. Get ready to hear “There She Goes” a dozen times. Aside from that, the movie also has a great soundtrack filled with other solid early nineties hits that made me wistfully nostalgic for the era of stonewashed jeans (and jeans jackets).

This is one of those movies that I wish I had seen earlier. Its nothing Oscar worthy, but its effectively funny, kind of heartwarming and based around a rather novel idea for a romantic comedy. Absolutely recommended.
Real trailer can be found at IMDB, what follows below is just a clip since I can't find the trailer on Youtube.

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