Sony // 1993 // 93 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // June 17th, 2008
There she goes...there she goes again!
Generally, when people think of Mike Myers, they think of three franchises: Wayne's World, Austin Powers, or Shrek. The first one, based on the Saturday Night Live skit, was a major hit and made Myers a star. Yet, when his follow-up called So I Married An Axe Murderer was released in the summer of 1993, it flopped big time. What happened? Were people not ready to see Myers without Dana Carvey? Maybe so, because when Wayne's World 2 came out at the end of the year, it made box office gold again. Since then, virtually all of Myers' starring vehicles have followed suit.
I was one of only a few people who saw Axe Murderer in the theaters. While it was nothing great, I personally liked it and still find it appealing fifteen years later. In fact, I think it's Myers best performance (yes, he actually does act to an extent here), as well as his best film. Sony is now re-releasing this underrated comedy in a "special edition" DVD, though is it really worthy of that label?
San Francisco poet Charlie McKenzie (Myers) has a screwed-up love-life. Armed with a funny sense of humor, he seems to have no problem dating women. However, he always ends up finding absurd reasons for breaking up with them because he's terrified of true commitment. Then he meets the dynamite Harriet Michaels (Nancy Travis, The Jane Austen Book Club), who runs a downtown butcher shop, and is immediately smitten. Soon, however, he begins to suspect she's Mrs. X...a notorious axe murderess!
Naturally, how much you enjoy this film will depend on your tolerance for Myers' wild comedy shtick. However, this isn't Wayne, Dr. Evil or a green ogre we are talking about here. In Axe Murderer, Myers plays a relatively normal guy (!), albeit one with a neurosis or two. Even his secondary role as Charlie's own Scottish father doesn't get overly outrageous or crude. Being his sole venture into romantic comedy territory, this no doubt will be your one chance to see an uncommonly sweet Myers. And he does remarkable well, even without a body suit or constant references to excrement.
Myers is funny, though he's also backed up by a talented supporting cast. The forgotten Nancy Travis is both sassy and sexy as Charlie's love interest, and Anthony LaPaglia (Without A Trace) is fun as his best friend, a cop who's addicted to Starsky and Hutch. Amanda Plummer (The Fisher King) is deliciously delirious as Harriet's red-headed sister. You also have Oscar-winners Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot) in terrific supporting roles. The real treat is all the cameos, however, which include Charles Grodin, Michael Richards, Debi Mazar, and the late Phil Hartman.
Despite the silly title -- and a plot more complicated than it need be -- the film has a pretty palatable script. Sometimes the film goes off track (such as an obligatory sequence at Alcatraz) and lacks bite. In other words, the story is very uneven, though it's largely compensated for by many funny moments and the two leads' likeability. Much of the comedy is generated by Charlie's suspicion of Harriet's history, with such scenes as him being offered a homemade "health shake" and being shocked at Harriet screaming names in her sleep. However, for my money, the funniest moments have Charlie crooning poetry or Stuart (the Scottish patriarch) complaining about the size of his youngest son's noggin ("Look at the size of that boy's head...looks like an orange on a toothpick!").
Director Thomas Schlamme (Miss Firecracker) keeps everything fun and lightweight. The actors appear relaxed under his wing and he also takes advantage of the setting, with some nice shots of S.F. streets and skylines. He and the music supervisor also provide a hip soundtrack, including such 90s staples as Toad the Wet Sprocket, Soul Asylum, and The Spin Doctors.
Sony, I have just two words for you: therapy!
So I Married An Axe Murder is touted as a special edition and, yet, it has absolutely nothing in terms of bonus features. That's right: no commentaries, documentaries, deleted scenes, theatrical trailers...not a single thing to compliment the SE honor. Talk about the most shameless form of false advertising I've ever seen when it comes to DVD releases!
To make matters worse, the video/audio presentation is only a slight upgrade from the original 1999 release. The 1.85:1 Widescreen presentation is exceptional, with no grain or anomalies present. The 5.1 Surround tracks in English and French are awesome, though subtitles this time are only limited to those two languages, whereas before they were available in five others. That being said, you would be better off getting the '99 release for 10 bucks instead of wasting nearly 10 more for this so-called "special edition."
So I Married An Axe Murderer is no classic. Still, Schlamme and Myers make it a small winner. And how many modern-day romantic comedies can you say has some originality to them? Even if you don't care for Myers, I recommend you give the movie a shot.
The film is free to go, though Sony is getting the axe. Court is adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2008 Christopher Kulik; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13