So I Married an Axe Murderer (UK - BD)
Scott McKenzie takes a look at the Mike Myers film that still makes him laugh...
Charlie MacKenzie (Mike Myers) is a San Francisco poet, who is struggling to find happiness in the face of his fear of marriage. Every time he meets a girl he could settle down with, he comes up with an outlandish excuse not to marry her. This all changes when he meets Harriet (Nancy Travis), but just when he thinks he's ready for commitment, an article in the Weekly World News makes him think the love of his life is actually a murderer who kills her new husbands on their wedding night. Along with his cop friend Tony (Anthony LaPaglia), he has to get to the bottom of the mystery of the honeymoon murders, in case he's next on the hit list.
Mike Myers—where did it all go wrong? It seems like just yesterday you were a one-man comedy franchise machine, but your brand of comedy included serious amounts of repetition, which quickly turned the Austin Powers movies into rehashes of the same story with the same jokes. However, So I Married An Axe Murderer was a movie you didn't write and it's one you haven't made a sequel to. Sure, it has your signature take on parts of British culture and was the first time you played multiple roles, but the story came first before the gags. Why not go back to this type of movie, before you were a recycling machine? Hang on a minute—I said go back to this type of movie. Don't make a sequel to it, whatever you do because it will no doubt mean ruining the memory of what is surely your best movie.
So I Married An Axe Murderer holds a special place in my heart. Like Charlie, my family's Scottish so the script contains a large number of quotable lines that still make me laugh after all this time. Playing his own father, Mike Myers just about nails the Scottish accent apart from referring to football as 'soccer', but as well all know, this was a precursor to the criminally unfunny Fat Bastard in Austin Powers. Some of the mannerisms of his characters will also be familiar to his later performances. Nancy Travis is also very good as Harriet, with just the right balance of charm and menace during the is-she-isn't-she scenes.
The supporting cast is surprisingly strong as well, notably Amanda Plummer and Anthony LaPaglia as the reluctant pencil-pushing detective Tony. There are a decent number of cameo appearances from Alan Arkin, Charles Grodin, Brenda Fricker, Steven Wright and Phil Hartman as Vicky, the Alcatraz guide. There are lots of great moments featuring all of these actors, some in blink-and-you-miss-them roles, and this is one of the great strengths of So I Married An Axe Murderer—there is enough good material to go round them all.
With elements of mystery and romance as well as comedy, it's a unique combination that could easily have descended into spoof or farce but aside from a couple of sly nods to the camera, it never does. From one perspective, the way the screenplay is written could be seen as a set of sketches stitched together, with some moments of slapstick and carefully-written dialogue but it's more than that. I've reviewed a few comedy movies in the last few months from Judd Apatow, who is the supposed saviour of modern comedy, but I'd happily take this movie ahead of anything I've seen from him.
You may be scratching your head, wondering why So I Married An Axe Murderer has been released on Blu-ray as a relatively early catalogue title. It doesn't have incredible visual effects or sweeping vistas to wow the viewer, so why bother? I'm sure the studio types would struggle to answer that question as well and the presentation on this disc does nothing to make me think it's worth handing over your hard-earned cash for. As with movies from the mid-90s that I've reviewed recently ( Cliffhanger, Stargate), the opening studio logos are unreassuringly wobbly, which doesn't get us off to a good start. There is a lack of detail in both wide shots and close ups that we should expect from high definition, even a film that's fifteen years old and the colours are washed out. The picture also flickers a little from time to time and the black level is not dark enough. I also noticed that the grey in the shadows across the actors' faces is very pronounced, which is off-putting at times.
This disc comes with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 options in English, Italian and Spanish, but I'm afraid it's more bad news where the quality is concerned. The opening scene at the coffee shop/poetry place highlights the work that is needed to bring this track up to scratch. When the crowd claps, the sound effects should come through the surround speakers, with the dialogue coming through the front. This happens a handful of times but for the most part all of the audio seems to be coming through the front. The odd moments that the surround channels are used just highlights what we're missing. As with the picture, So I Married An Axe Murderer isn't pieced together in a complicated way, so while this could have been an opportunity to show what can be done with relatively a relatively simple catalogue title, all we're given is an audio track that does little more for the viewer than stereo would.
Trailers for Close Encounters and Surf's Up do not make this edition special in the slightest. There is a BD-Live option, but my player was having none of it.
So I Married An Axe Murderer made me laugh when it was released in 1993 and it still does today after many viewings, which is the best way I can think to recommend this underrated movie. That's the good news. The bad news is that this release pretty much stinks. The video and audio quality is nowhere near what we expect from high definition and just like the DVD releases of this movie, it comes with no extras. As much as I love the movie, this is the most unnecessary Blu-ray release I've seen so far.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Scott McKenzie
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 16th June 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Italian, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: Arabic, Czech, Danish, English, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
Extras: Previews, BD-Live
Easter Egg: No
Director: Thomas Schlamme
Cast: Mike Myers, Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia, Amanda Plummer,
Length: 93 minutes
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