As the “I” of the title, Mike Myers is as eager to please as a panting puppy who won’t get a treat until he performs his cutest tricks. Myers plays Charlie Mackenzie, a clerk in a San Francisco bookstore who wants to be a poet and a lifelong bachelor. Myers also plays Charlie’s dad, a haggis-eating Scot who chews out Charlie for his marriage phobia. Oscar winner Brenda Fricker plays Charlie’s horny mother, but you get the feeling that Myers would have taken that role, too.
This gifted Canadian, from the cast of Saturday Night Live, is a master of mischief in the sketch format. The Wayne’s World movie, with Myers and Dana Carvey, worked best as a series of riffs. Axe is also funniest when director Thomas Schlamme, whose first feature was the under-rated Miss Firecracker, keeps things silly and loose. But the plot keeps intruding. Charlie falls for Harriet (Nancy Travis), the owner of a meat market. He proposes, then panics. Could Harriet the butcher be the ax murderer who’s been chopping her husbands into hamburger?
Credit writer Robbie Fox for the fertile comic premise of equating marriage and death in the male mind. But the story, involving Charlie’s cop buddy (Anthony LaPaglia) and Harriet’s artist sister (Amanda Plummer), is too convoluted. Juggling mirth, romance and murder requires a deft touch — think of Hitchcock’s Trouble With Harry. Axe is a blunt instrument.