Glenn Kenny
March 04, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Where Mike Myers got ”Axe Murderer” inspiration

While you’d have to be dozing not to catch the parallels between 1987’s black comedy Throw Momma From the Train and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 classic Strangers on a Train — the former even contains a film clip from the latter — it might not hit you that last year’s screwball So I Married an Axe Murderer owes its whole premise to the master’s 1941 Suspicion. In each film, a newly married person comes to believe that his/her seemingly perfect mate is in fact a murderer who plans on making him/her the next victim. In Suspicion, bride Joan Fontaine thinks her ultra-suave groom, Cary Grant, is a killer, while in Axe Murderer, groom Mike Myers decides that his smart, sexy new wife (Nancy Travis) is a serial husband slayer.

An additional homage to Hitch occurs in a potentially-poisonous-health-shake scene that’s a direct takeoff on Suspicion‘s famed luminous-glass-of-milk sequence. But there the similarities end, since Axe Murderer is a full-blast comedy. It seemed slight in theaters — Myers (SNL and Wayne’s World) is great as his character’s irascibly Scottish dad, though as romantic lead Charlie MacKenzie he’s stretched too thin — but as an evening’s rental, it provides an embarrassment of silly riches. Travis is unstoppably charming, and well-integrated comic cameos by Alan Arkin, Phil Hartman, and Steven Wright keep things chugging.

As for Suspicion, in which the emotional core is provided by the impossibly wimpy Fontaine, it plays a bit disappointingly for an acknowledged classic. A few bravura sequences aside, it’s fairly flat. Sure, it’s worth seeing, but Axe Murderer is a lot sharper. Axe Murderer: B+; Suspicion: B

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