So I Married An Axe Murderer Review
This wonderfully quirky comedy stars Mike Myers, disposing the long locks of Wayne’s World for dark red curtains, in a role that is for all intents and purposes, his most ‘real’ to date. However, having said that, intimately woven into the characters he plays in the film – Charlie, an offbeat poet displaying his talents (or lack of) to a jazz band beat in a retro-coffeehouse, and Stuart, Charlie’s eccentric Scottish father – are obvious pre-Austin Powers character traits. Austin himself, with his lowbrow, pithy one-liners and sexual innuendo; Doctor Evil’s glossed over innocence, and a uncanny resemblance between the over-weight Scottish henchman going by a name referring directly to his physical appearance, and Charlie’s father.
Charlie’s been unlucky in love enough times to have had the time and the inspiration to write poems about each and every failure, with a weekly spot at his local coffeehouse to off load his literal inadequacies. In a chance meeting at a ‘Meat’s of the World’ butchers, Charlie not only finds the ‘haggis’ he was looking for, for a get together at his parents house, but Harriet the butcher (Nancy Travis), a beautiful, intelligent woman who he believes could be the one! After the relationship blossoms, Charlie is made aware of Mrs X, a woman who enters into marriage with men only to kill them on their wedding night. The story of ‘The Honeymoon Killer’ is printed in the National Enquirer-like ‘Weekly World News’, so Charlie doesn’t take much interest, but, no matter how much he ignores it, mounting evidence is pointing close to home.
This film was largely a Myers vehicle, yet most of the cast excel in their various roles. Whether it be Nancy Travis as the love interest; Anthony LaPaglia as the friend; or the many wonderful cameo’s, most notably Alan Arkin as the soft police officer, and Phil Hartman as an Alcatraz guide named ‘Vicky’. Mike Myers though, leads the cast with an assured comedic quality, yet at times I did get the feeling that he was more at home with the farcical comedy elements than the subdued black humour. With his second role in the film, playing his father, Myers not only shows the peak of his talents but prospers from having some of the best lines in the film.
Director Thomas Schlamme neatly allows the actors to take center stage, never allowing the camera to intrude; apart from the opening sequence where the camera follows a coffee cup from being used to being served again, ending up in Charlie’s hands. This introduction sets the theme and mood for the rest of the film with its odd take on coffeehouse catering, centering the audience directly into the world in which the protagonist is placed. Schlamme’s career in directing television dramas and sit-com’s certainly helps, with Ally Mcbeal, Spin City and ER sitting comfortably on his resume, he keeps a distance and never appears heavy-handed.
The film’s major flaw is its plot. Moving swiftly through the acts the story keeps you interested but the attempt at ‘mystery’ never really works. The ‘mystery’ aspect is a bold idea, with writer Robbie Fox trying to inject some ‘whodunit’ ambiguity to an otherwise by-the-numbers romance. The eventual realisation comes as no surprise and without being a total letdown, is a little unsatisfying. Additionally, at times the continuing use of cameo appearances leaves some scenes feeling more like forced sketches, however, they are undoubtedly funny; some gut-busting, side-splitting, regurgitate last night’s dinner, funny – so the problem can be overlooked.
The film never set the box office alight with its thick black take on relationships and marriage, yet it holds up to repeat viewings and with the talent on offer it is a sure-fire winner.
The film is anamorphically enhanced, in its correct theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The quality of the picture is very good, with colours vibrant and rich. I didn’t notice any excessive sharpness and the contrast level seems to be just about perfect, with blacks and shadows clearly delineated. With a relatively new film I didn’t expect any print damage, however, I did notice the odd speck and print burn here and there, although these aren’t distracting in the slightest.
The Dolby Surround (4 channel) does a perfectly adequate job. Most of the dialogue is mono directed, which is fine however at times you do feel as though a little more separation would have been nicely appropriate. All the dialogue is clean and clear, with only the music utilising the rear speakers.
The extras are minimalist but the theatrical trailer for So I Married An Axe Murderer is something to savour with Mike Myers narrating, sitting on one of the sets from the film getting his make-up done. The trailer is amusing and presented anamorphically enhanced to a ratio of approximately 16:9. Other trailers include Cops and Robbersons (16:9 enhanced), High School High (4:3 Full Frame), Joe Dirt (16:9 enhanced), and Big Daddy (4:3 Full Frame). The trailers are accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks. Additionally, there are brief production notes that offer very slight information behind the scenes of the film.
Columbia Tristar have put together an economical release of this black comedy. The film certainly stands up to repeat viewings and it is presented quite well on DVD with a solid picture and amiable sound. The movie will satisfy Myers fans, and provides a tidy bridge between the Wayne’s World film’s and Austin Powers.