This review includes full spoilers. Proceed accordingly. For other movie reviews from me, click HERE:
Dusty: [to subscriber] How many people have you brutally murdered?
Subscriber: Well, brutal’s a very subjective word. I mean, what’s brutal to one person might be totally reasonable to somebody else.
Director: Thomas Schlamme
Writer: Robbie Fox
Stars: Mike Myers, Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia
Release Date: July 30, 1993 (United States)
Run time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Charlie MacKenzie is a popular local beat poet living in San Francisco who makes his frequent break-ups the subject of his poems. His best friend Tony, a recently promoted police detective, believes that Charlie is afraid of commitment and will identify (or invent) any reason to break up with someone.
While purchasing dinner for his Scottish-born parents, Stuart and May, he encounters a butcher named Harriet, and is attracted to her. During his visit with his family, Charlie and May discuss his most recent break-up, and May brings up a tabloid article about a bride known as “Mrs. X”, who kills her husbands on their honeymoons using an axe.
Charlie goes back to the butcher shop and offers to help Harriet. The two find common bonds and start to date. After staying at her place one night, Charlie meets Harriet’s eccentric sister, Rose, who warns Charlie to be careful. He learns Harriet used to live in Atlantic City, was involved with a trainer in Russian martial arts, and screams for someone named Ralph in her sleep. Charlie arranges a dinner with her to meet his parents, who say she is their favourite of all his partners. Charlie reads the article about Mrs. X, which identifies two of her victims as a martial arts expert and a man named Ralph.
Charlie becomes fearful and asks Tony to investigate Harriet and the Mrs. X story. Tony reveals that the husbands of Mrs. X were all reported missing alongside their wives, assuring that Harriet is unlikely to be Mrs. X. Charlie remains on edge, and after a few more troubled dates, breaks up with her. Tony reports that a killer in the Mrs. X story has confessed. Relieved, Charlie apologizes to Harriet by reciting one of his beat poems to her from her rooftop. They make up, and Harriet explains away some of her history, such as Ralph being the name of a woman she knows.
At his parents’ wedding anniversary Charlie proposes to Harriet. She accepts after some hesitation. Following the wedding ceremony, they embark on a honeymoon to a secluded mountain hotel. After they depart, Tony learns that the confessed killer is actually a compulsive liar. He sends a photo of Harriet to the known associates of the missing husbands, and all identify her as their friends’ wife. With phone lines to the hotel down due to a storm, Tony charters a plane. Once he lands, he calls Charlie locally and warns him that Harriet really is Mrs. X, but the hotel phone line is knocked out and power is lost.
Charlie panics and tries to stay away from Harriet without letting her know what he knows, but the hotel staff force him into the honeymoon suite for their first night together. After locking Harriet in the closet, Charlie discovers a letter, purportedly written by him, explaining his absence to Harriet. Rose appears wielding an axe and reveals herself as the Mrs. X killer. She feels that Harriet’s husbands are taking her sister from her, motivating her to kill them on their honeymoon night and leave letters behind claiming to be from them, leading Harriet to believe that each husband abandoned her. Charlie flees from Rose.
Tony leads the police into the hotel and arrests Harriet, still believing her to be the murderer. Charlie, having been chased to the hotel roof by Rose, gets Tony’s attention as they take Harriet away. While the police make their way up to the roof, Rose swings the axe at Charlie and is thrown off the building. Tony catches her, and she is arrested and taken away. Charlie and Harriet resume their lives as a happy couple.
So I Married an Axe Murderer is a strange film. While it would likely label itself a comedy, there is so much romance, faux horror, and general weirdness in it, throughout, that by the credits were rolling, I did not know how to classify the plot in my mind.
This is a story about a man, Charlie, who falls in love with a woman, Harriet, who has a tragic romantic past. While she believes that three different men from her past have left her, on their honeymoon, the reality is that her sister, Rose, has been murdering her husbands and leaving false break-up notes for Harriet in their wake. Charlie comes from a conspiratorial family and suspects Harriet of being a murderer, due to her evasiveness about her past and also because of her similarities to a suspected murderer known as Mrs. X. Rose nearly succeeds in killing Charlie, but his suspicion of Harriet inadvertently helps him to narrowly survive Rose’s attack. Then of course the real murderer is caught and the happy couple lives hapily ever after.
How do you turn that plot into a comedy? You do it with difficulty. Mike Myers’ Charlie is a slam poet, from an eccentric Scottish family, his friend Tony is a cop, who bored with paperwork, convinces his superior officer to act like a television version of himself while Tony investigates Mrs. X.
Charlie’s bombastic Scottish father Stuart – also played by Myers – is the highlight of the film’s comedy, which comes largely in the form of shouting at people and espousing conspiracy theories. In hindsight, I think the movie would have been better if it had focused on Charlie’s strange and endearing family, rather than the somewhat dull comedic romantic thriller that comprised the main portion of the story.
Stuart Mackenzie: Well, it’s a well known fact, Sonny Jim, that there’s a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world, known as The Pentavirate, who run everything in the world, including the newspapers, and meet tri-annually at a secret country mansion in Colorado, known as The Meadows.
Tony Giardino: So who’s in this Pentavirate?
Stuart Mackenzie: The Queen, The Vatican, The Gettys, The Rothschilds, *and* Colonel Sanders before he went t*** up. Oh, I hated the Colonel with is wee *beady* eyes, and that smug look on his face. “Oh, you’re gonna buy my chicken! Ohhhhh!”
Charlie Mackenzie: Dad, how can you hate “The Colonel”?
Stuart Mackenzie: Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smart***!
Stuart Mackenzie: Look at the size of that boy’s heed.
Tony Giardino: Shhh!
Stuart Mackenzie: I’m not kidding, it’s like an orange on a toothpick.
The movie is not for small kids. The audience is shown the rear end of either Mike Myers or a body double, and there is a lot of foul and suggestive language throughout. I do not think the attempts at murder in the final act are particularly intense or harrowing, but a young child might.
As noted, most of the film is less comedy and more light-hearted / odd romantic drama. While I did not really find myself laughing a lot, but that is not to say I did not enjoy the movie. It was pleasantly odd. Despite not being a particularly funny comedy, or a clearly defined one, it was entertaining throughout, quick-paced, and with very few moments of the plot actually dragging. Mike Myers gives a good performance as both Charlie and his father Stuart, delivering some life to what was otherwise a pretty mediocre story.
So… I do not think this is a *bad* movie, but I cannot bring myself to recommend that anyone spend ninety minutes watching it. There were not a lot of laughs in the film. The plot sort of demanded that Harriet not be the killer, there was only one possible alternative candidate to serve that role, and we knew Charlie wasn’t going to die due to the comedic nature of the story-telling, so there was no real plot intrigue. That said, sometimes the scenery on a road trip isn’t particularly noteworthy, and the destination is not exciting, but the ride is fine due to the company you are with. Mike Myers made for a pleasant travel companion.
Have you see So I Married an Axe Murderer? Did you marry an an axe murderer yourself? Share you thoughts and stories in the comments.