So I Married an Axe Murderer slips quite comfortably into the niche of the Eminently Quotable movie, with the kind of lines that happily settle down in your subconscious, providing quotes useful for testing potential friends and dates, or just for creeping out potential friends, dates and insuring the seat next to you on the bus stays empty. It’s not anywhere near the brilliant horror and romance parody of, say, Shaun of the Dead, but it’s still worthy of a spot on the queue.
Sandwiched between the two more popular Wayne’s World movies, Axe Murderer was never promoted and has been mostly forgotten, which means the best lines haven’t been mined to death (see: Austin Powers, Shrek, and every other Meyers movie that isn’t just a huge crap fiesta) but also aren’t very well known. Absolutely none of them make sense out of context, so it is the perfect quotable movie that can’t reliably be quoted in public, bursting with effortless bits of nonsense that will stick in your Sputnik-shaped head for years to come, ready to pop out at the most inappropriate times.
Axe Murderer exists in the low-budget sweet spot of Mike Meyers’ career, the five-to-seven year gap that seems to exist for many comedians, just after the first blockbuster but before the eventual string of safe, fiscally successful family entertainment grinds them into a bland paste — and Meyers was fairly bland to start with. The director makes some cute choices setting up shots, gives us some lovely views of San Francisco, but mostly just keeps things moving. Inexplicably, the quirky script comes from the screenwriter responsible for In the Army Now, the Pauly Shore — no, forget it. It never happened. He never happened. Let’s move on.
The story is simple enough for level four Hangover Theater. Charlie Mackenzie (Meyers) is a normal enough guy with a passion for open mic nights, reciting faux-beat poetry about the state of his love life and his blatant fear of commitment, making up increasingly iffy reasons for breaking it off with women. (One of them “smelled like soup,” a comment with an unexpected reprise in last year’s Juno.)
Charlie meets Harriet (Nancy Travis) and they hit it off right away, but strange warning signs begin to pile up as Charlie learns more and more about the possible secrets hiding in her past. Could such a wonderful woman really be a psychopath, or is it just his perpetual cold feet? As in all rom-coms there is the required montage-of-love, a few plot contrivances and people living in San Francisco in laughably gigantic apartments for their pay grade.
Meyers also transforms himself for the role of Charlie’s father, Stuart Mackenzie, a kilt-clad gleeful bastard of a Scot who would eventually make way for a much higher grossing green ogre. His dialogue here is certainly the more memorable. (Oddly, in the movie Meyers is far more annoying out of this persona than in it, though those of you who hate his ubiquitous Scottish shtick likely won’t be as forgiving as those who heard it here first, when it was something he did instead of something he was.)
It’s in the peripheral scenes and the supporting characters, though, that the movie has its real fun. Full of bizarre, rambling set pieces that would never survive a blockbuster’s focus group culling, it has several great performances and lots of ‘hey it’s that guy’ moments. Perhaps the best scene of the movie belongs, unsurprisingly, to the late Phil Hartman, as an Alcatraz tour guide with a marvelous nickname and a perfectly executed story the other guards don’t tell. There is never, ever an appropriate time to whip this monologue out, and yet it will most likely stay in the back of your head for the rest of your life.
Axe Murderer is a lighthearted movie, interesting to watch not only in its own right, but in comparison to Meyers’ more recent box-office disasters. The story isn’t complicated, the performances aren’t particularly nuanced, and yet with all of its digressions there’s no sense of bloat, certainly no overproduction. It flits along, content to be what it is, buoyed by a kicky script and a sense of easygoing fun that has mostly faded from Meyers’ films over time. I would say it was a very simple film, but judging by the graveyard of failed movies that followed and the recent implosion of The Love Guru, it deserves a bit more praise than that.
Twig Collins believes in truth, justice, and Tyrannosaurs in F-14’s..
So I Married an Axe Murderer / Guest Critic Twig Collins
Hangover Theater | July 14, 2008 | Comments ()