From Wayne Campbell to Austin Powers to Shrek, Mike Myers has a talent for creating cultural icons. As undeniably influential as those performances are, however, none are quite as honest (or painfully relatable) as the one that the actor delivers as Charlie MacKenzie in So I Married an Axe Murderer. Aside from his unusual occupation (he works as a full-time beat poet—with enough success, apparently, to afford a lavish San Francisco apartment), Charlie is totally average, ordinary, unassuming... heck, borderline boring. Even when he does indulge in a bit outright schtick, it feels perfectly in-character: his self-deprecating sense of humor serves as a suit of armor, shielding his deep-seated insecurities, anxieties, and neuroses.
It would, of course, be inaccurate to describe Charlie as a traditional “straight man”; after all, Myers still shamelessly hams it up and mugs for the camera, earning plenty of laughs. But rather than being the primary source of the film’s zany brand of comedy (as in Wayne’s World or Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery), his narrative function is to react to the absurdity of his surroundings; most of the jokes happen to or around our protagonist, rather than being motivated by him. In one particularly memorable scene, for example, Charlie asks a friend for romantic advice... while they’re on a tour of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary (conducted by Phil Hartman’s hilariously stone-faced Ranger John “Vicky” Johnson). Indeed, Myers is entirely absent from some of So I Married an Axe Murderer’s funniest moments—such as when Alan Arkin’s affable, soft-spoken police chief awkwardly attempts to reprimand and belittle his officers, “like in the movies.”
This “situational” approach to the comedy lends So I Married an Axe Murderer a timeless quality (horrendous ‘90s fashion trends notwithstanding) that sets it apart from the rest of Myers’ work. Wayne and Austin Powers feel like caricatures that personify very specific eras; Charlie, on the other hand, is something far more universal—a human being.