Archive for California

So I Married an Axe Murderer

DVD (1993) Written by Robbie Fox/Directed by Thomas Schlamme

(Photo: TriStar Pictures)

Suspecting your loved one of being a serial killer: we’ve all been there. But for San Francisco poet Charlie Mackenzie, this kind of thing is becoming a habit: every girlfriend is mentally ill, or smells like soup, or steals his cats. At least according to him. Charlie has a serious fear of commitment, and as he reads yet one more of his mournful doomed-relationship poems at open-mic night, it doesn’t look as if any woman will ever be good enough for him.

But love and haggis are in the air, and Charlie (played by Mike Myers) soon meets the smart and pretty Harriet Michaels (Nancy Travis) at her butcher shop downtown. Charlie is smitten and things are going well — until he convinces himself that the sweet little Harriet is actually what the Weekly World News calls Mrs. X, the infamous Honeymoon Murderer who marries, kills, then disappears into the night in search of another victim. Will Charlie push through his paranoia and find happiness with Harriet, or will he leave her just like he’s left all the others?

As goofy and as fluffy as this movie is, So I Married an Axe Murderer is impossible to hate. Nancy Travis has never been the most convincing actress, but there is a cute chemistry between her and Myers  and I like her a lot here. As for Myers, he steals the show from himself, playing a second role as Charlie’s perpetually-smashed insult-wielding father. In his thick Scottish brogue, Stuart Mackenzie nags his son Charlie for being a mamma’s boy (“Float away, ya fairy!”) and sloppily sings the wrong lyrics to every song he knows. Axe Murderer, which is unique in the rom-com world because it’s told from the guy’s point of view, is a classic in my books. It’s no Roman Holiday, but it is a lot of fun and it’s a great pick if you’re wary of “chick flicks.”

Sweet extras Watch for the scene where Myers as Stuart Mackenzie rants about his conspiracy theories involving the pope, the queen, and Colonel Sanders. Anthony LaPaglia, who plays Charlie’s friend Tony, can’t keep himself from cracking up, and you can tell he’s laughing for real.

The envelope, please I award Axe Murderer the following prizes:

Best wedding dress in a rom-com: This gothic-looking hooded chiffon and satin wedding death, I mean “‘dress,”  is gorgeous. How I’d love to float down the aisle (or through a cemetery) in that beautiful thing.

Best honeymoon destination in a rom-com: The fictional Poet’s Corner Inn, a neo-classical mansion snuggled in the mountains, is a lovers paradise. Well, it would be if it were real. The mountains you see behind the inn are  fake, and the inn itself is actually the Dunsmuir-Hellman Historic Estate. You can’t stay overnight, but you CAN get married there (and murdered too, perhaps?).

Good for who? An excellent choice for the gal or guy who detests romantic comedies, but feels the pressure to rent/download one for a romantic night in. Guys, if you and your wife/girlfriend/weekend lover don’t LOL at this movie, I will personally send a handwritten letter of apology to you.  Note to the Baptist minister’s wife: Sorry I said “weekend lover” up there, and second, this movie is probably a wee bit too racy for you. Sexual content is no big deal (unless you count Mike Myers bare bottom, but it’s played for laughs — nothing sexy about it), but the language is a little jarring with two F-bombs and a light peppering of other words throughout.

Loved this movie? Live this movie! The Weekly World News is 100% true — that’s a fact.

Charlie’s mother refers to the Weekly World News scandal rag as “the paper” and to her, the content of this paper is irrefutable. Cigarette in hand, she peruses the paper each evening, learning about the world around her. You can too! The infamous Weekly World News — which gave us the truth about Hitler’s gaggle of love children as well as tales of the flesh-starved Bat Boy —  stopped its hard copy version in 2007, but its website is still going. If you care about the facts and nothing but the facts, you’ll get your news here and only here: http://weeklyworldnews.com/

Samples and first lines from today’s WWN headline news, for January 2011:

Kim Kardashian crisis: “Tragedy struck Kim Kardashian last night on a private flight from New Jersey to Las Vegas.  Her left butt cheek exploded.”

Megan Fox marries but she’s still a man: “WWN has confirmed that Megan Fox married Brian Austin Green on June 24th.  WWN also confirmed that she is still a man. … One guest overheard Fox saying she thought she looked like Alan Alda in her wedding gown.”

Mike Tyson has a pigeon fetish: “…Tyson, 44, will exhibit an unfamiliar, and sometimes uncomfortable, tender side as he shows the depth of his love for pigeons.”

Tuna boy of New Jersey: “A rare mutation happened to Fred Allan on the way to his Thanksgiving feast.  His head turned into a Tuna. Last week, Fred Allan, an angler who went missing three miles off the coast of New Jersey, was spotted in Jersey City on his way to a Thanksgiving feast. Fred sat through his Thanksgiving meal with his family without them noticing that his head had turned into a tuna. … It wasn’t until he was walking home when a little boy, Chucky Thompson, saw Fred on the street and screamed, “Your head is a tuna fish!”

Paula Jane

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It’s Complicated

DVD (2009)  Written and directed by Nancy Meyers                                    STARRING: Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin  

(Image: Universal)

We meet the lovely Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) as the last of her three grown children is moving away from home. Considering the lonely days ahead on her Santa Barbara estate, Jane’s biggest dilemma is “Who will I watch The Hills with?”  She’s feeling a bit mopey, but overall, life is great: she owns a trendy successful bakery, and her kids adore her — not to mention she looks ultra-fab in her awesome purple reading glasses. It seems the only thing missing from this divorced woman’s life is a man, and it’s not long before she finds herself with two: her architect Adam (Steve Martin) and her intrusive-but-charming ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin). Jake’s married to the younger woman he left his wife for 10 years ago, but insists he never really got over Jane. As for Jane, she’s interested in her architect, but she’s also curious: would things be better with her ex-husband the second time around?

If you liked Something’s Gotta Give (also by Meyers), you will without a doubt enjoy this one too. Music and tiny snippets of familiar-sounding dialogue tie the films together in mood and tone without being too copycat. What I especially love about the most recent films of Nancy Meyers is that she takes me to places I’d love to be: the perfect beach house in the Hamptons (Something’s Gotta Give), a cozy English cottage at Christmas time (The Holiday), or Jane Adler’s terra-cotta tiled estate near the Pacific.  For Meyers, the homes must be gorgeous and the characters must wander about them, eating great meals and MarthaStewart-ing in the veggie gardens and markets. In Nancy Meyers’ world, not even the marijuana stinks. (I know that would have made Carl, my previous neighbour, a lot more tolerable.)

But what really makes It’s Complicated work is that the characters are all so likeable. There was even a moment when I felt for the hard-edged tiger-tattooed Agness (Lake Bell).  And as for Meryl, I never not love her—even when she’s as high as a kite or weirdly thrashing about in her Mamma Mia overalls.  The roles in this film seem tailor-made for the comedic timing of  Streep, Martin, and Baldwin, and the humour of this doomed love triangle is ultimately showcased in a second-act conclusion that is both gut-bustingly funny and deeply horrifying. I shall say nothing more except that it’s great fun.

Sweet extras  John Krasinski (The Office) plays Meryl’s soon-to-be  son-in-law. He’s too cute when he finds himself privy to information he wishes he never had.

If you liked this, you will also like Something’s Gotta Give, written and directed by Nancy Meyers.

Good for who?  An excellent choice for singles and couples, and a great one to watch with your spouse. If you’re watching in mixed company, be warned of the sexual content (frequent though not explicit) and some pot-smoking (though miraculously odourless).

Loved this movie? Live this movie! Croque monsieur

No, I’m absolutely not going to suggest you have an affair  with your married ex-husband, but I WILL tell you how to make a brilliant quick dinner, inspired by the movie. The dish is croque monsieur, which Jane makes for Adam one evening after meeting to discuss the architectural plans for her house.  Jane says she discovered the recipe for this toasted sandwich while living in Paris, and made the dish frequently because it was quick and cheap.

I combined several recipes to come up with one delicious and easy one.  It’s like a fancy-pants grilled cheese and very rich tasting and filling. Try it with a crisp side salad of grape tomatoes and romaine.

You’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • several tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 slices firm white sandwich bread—can’t be too soft. (You might prefer fresh bread you slice yourself)
  • thinly sliced Black Forest ham
  • slices of Gruyère cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped green onions

Directions:

Have on hand a small saucepan and a large skillet. Preheat your broiler.

In a small saucepan, melt several tablespoons of butter. Add flour and stir, and gradually whisk in milk for one or two minutes. Bring to a boil on medium-heat until the sauce thickens, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the crusts from the bread if you like (I did) and build four sandwiches with ham and a slice of Gruyère between two slices of bread.

Heat a large skillet over low heat. Brush sandwiches with 1 tablespoon of melted butter on each side. Cook in the skillet until golden brown on both sides. Place the sandwiches on a cookie sheet, then smooth a light layer of sauce over the top of each sandwich. Grate cheese over the sandwiches, sprinkle with green onions, then broil until the cheese bubbles and begins to brown (should take about 3 minutes).

Tips:

  • Test sandwiches before you pull them out of the broiler. You want the bread to be toasty, not too soft.
  • To make the recipe cheaper, substitute a cheaper swiss or gouda cheese for the Gruyère.
  • While most recipes called for just a light grating of cheese on the top and slices in the middle, I put less cheese in the middle and more on top to get a nice grilled taste.

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