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Strange and Fantastic Tales of the 20th Century: ‘So I Married an Axe Murderer’

Poetry and paranoia make this a pretty magical film.

Strange and Fantastic Tales of the 20th Century is a look back at the weirdest, most memorable, and most off center movies of the 20th century. From head turning horror to oddball science fiction this column examines the films that will leave a lasting impression for centuries to come.

It has the intrigue and debauchery of a Lifetime movie while maintaining the cuteness and lack of verisimilitude of a Hallmark movie. It is the 90’s, a time where coffee houses and Saturday Night Live comedians rule the world. Love, laughs, and murders most foul, So I Married an Axe Murderer is a classic I need to rewatch every chance I get. 

Directed by Thomas Schlamme and written by Robbie Fox, So I Married an Axe Murderer is a charming and silly movie about a commitment phobic poet who falls for a beguiling butcher named Harriet (Nancy Travis). Mike Myers plays Charlie, a man who we are supposed to believe can live comfortably in San Francisco on a poet’s salary. (He doesn’t even have a side job). He writes super catchy jazzy beat poems about the women who have scorned him. If you haven’t already seen this film, watch it, and you will quickly learn the words to the poems and be even more befuddled by his literary success. 

How can a poet be worried about loving a successful butcher? Well, he finds a tabloid story about a woman who has been traveling around the world marrying men and murdering them. Is Harriet Mrs. X? Charlie really believes so even though his best friend Tony, played by Anthony LaPaglia tries to talk him down from his paranoia. 

Why should you watch this strange and fantastic tale of 1993? It’s hilarious. Mike Myers stars in dual roles as both Charlie and Charlie’s father, Stuart – an angry Scottish man. Stuart steals every scene with his nonsense. Every character interaction is delightful. While there is a lot of ridiculousness, the writing is clever and every joke lands. The film has excellent character development and pacing. 

Strange and Fantastic Tales of the 20th Century: 'So I Married an Axe Murderer'

There are also some really stellar cameos. Alan Arkin plays a soft and lovable police captain, Charles Grodin plays a man who refuses to obey the law, and Phil Hartman makes a cameo in one of the film’s most unforgettable scenes. They are small roles in the film, but every role leaves an impression. The cast works really well together to deliver a film that is fun to watch and feels like it was fun to make.

Amanda Plummer plays Harriet’s sister Rose, a weird lady who lies about breakfast. Charlie’s parents are both wacky characters. Charlie’s brother, played by Matt Doherty of The Mighty Ducks, is a good natured soul, who never speaks, but finds the size of his head to be the butt of his father’s jokes. 

So I Married an Axe Murderer is ultimately a romantic comedy and the relationship between Harriet and Charlie is nicely developed and captures the charm of the most revered love stories of the genre. While the film uses the story of Mrs. X as a source of tension, the film examines the trust issues and the baggage a person carries.  I think we all have a movie or two that never fails to make us laugh. We know all the words and never get tired of it. This is one of mine. Watch this film with a giant cup of coffee while keeping a watchful eye on your significant other.

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