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‘So I Married an Axe Murderer’ (PG-13)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 30, 1993

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To watch "So I Married an Axe Murderer" is to enjoy Michael Myers at work -- or rather, at play. With his adolescently addled reactions to everything, he's essentially Garth from "Wayne's World," only a little more grown-up.

In "Axe," he's an aspiring neo-beat poet in San Francisco who's had terrible luck with women. He's not a great beat poet but he acts like one, speaking with halting, Captain-Kirkian timing, a burning cigarette in hand, while a jazz combo plays behind him and slide images flash on the wall.

His latest song -- which turns out to be the Chorus-like prelude to the movie -- is about latest obsession Nancy Travis, a beautiful butcher who chops flesh at Meats of the World. When Myers's Scottish mother (Brenda Fricker), an avid reader of World Weekly News, tells him about Madame X, a black-widow serial killer who offs her husbands on their honeymoon nights, he dismisses it as more kooky tabloid fare.

But after meeting and falling in love with Travis, he starts to observe disturbing similarities between her and Madame X. Both women seem to have lived in the same cities at the same time; both share acquaintances (or victims) with the same names. Myers, expressing his fears to cop and friend Anthony LaPaglia, becomes convinced he's next on the chopping block.

"Axe" is not art by any means. It's often overly taken up with resolving itself. But Myers and others create an enjoyably loose, anti-slick feeling about the affair. Amanda Plummer is amusingly off-kilter as Travis's weird sister; Alan Arkin makes much of a small role as LaPaglia's painfully sensitive supervisor. Among the cameo players, Phil Hartman is an amusingly fascistic guide at the Alcatraz prison and Charles Grodin works with superb understatement as a laconic driver reluctant to give up his car to desperate officer LaPaglia.

If the movie shows anything, it's that Myers, co-creator of "Wayne's World" and the funny "Sprockets" sketch on "Saturday Night Live," is capable of holding his own on screen. Ironically, his funniest work in the movie is in a supporting role: With the help of the split-screen process, he's a salty treat as Charlie's cantankerous, splenetic father, Stuart, a Scot with Coke-bottle glasses, who swears like a sailor, sings Rod Stewart songs and throws darts at pictures of the Queen Mother. Stuart is gratuitously astounded at the enormous size of his youngest son Heed's head. He doesn't get how Heed can walk around in life, "haulin' that garr-gantuan cranium around."

The best comic creation in the movie, Stuart is the one whose story we probably should have followed.

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