Charlie MacKenzie is a beat poet living in San Francisco, after having broken up with yet another girl based on paranoid perception. His policeman friend Tony tries to point out the pattern; that Charlie simply is afraid of commitment and tries to think of, or invent, any reason to break up with someone. Things pick up again when Charlie meets a butcher named Harriet, and becomes infatuated instantly. As the plot continues, Tony realizes that Harriet may be the mysterious "Mrs. X", a Black Widow who had married and killed multiple husbands. After marrying Harriet, Hilarity Ensues when both Charlie and Tony try to discover if Charlie has hitched himself to certain doom.
Released in 1993, this Black Comedy starred Mike Myers as Charlie (plus his dad Stuart), Nancy Travis as Harriet, and Anthony LaPaglia as Tony. It was a box-office disappointment as it earned less than half of the movie budget while on the big screen.
In 2021, Mike Myers announced plans for a spin-off series called The Pentaverate. It focuses on a Canadian journalist's attempt to expose a secret society that's been secretly influencing world events since 1347 - one mentioned by Stuart in this film in a throwaway joke. It was released on Netflix on June 5, 2022.
HEAD! TROPES! NOW!:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Charlie's mother May Mackenzie had the hots for Tony. When he went to kiss her goodbye with a friendly peck to her lips she grabbed him for a second kiss which was long and passionate. Then she called him a sexy bastard. While dancing with him at Charlie's wedding the horny housewife held him tightly and tried to kiss him on the lips again. May grabbed his buttocks with both hands and left lipstick marks on the side of his face. At Charlie's parents' wedding anniversary Tony gained a second admirer. An overweight and elderly woman stroked his shoulder and asked him to dance.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Charlie recites a poem describing Harriet as a "hard-hearted harbinger of haggis."
- The Alcatraz: Charlie and Tony do the guided tour of the prison. They always try to get the one lead by Ranger John 'Vicki' Johnson. For good reason.
- Ax-Crazy: Mrs. X.
- Balcony Wooing Scene: Charlie recites his poetry outside Harriet's kitchen window in order to win back her affection.
- Benevolent Boss: Tony's superior at the police department, as a parody of Da Chief (see below). In fact, the chief even starts acting like a hardass because Tony wishes that his chief acted more stereotypical... and to hammer this trope home, he proceeds to ask for critique on his performance afterwards.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Harriet's Shrinking Violet sister Rose turns out to be an insane serial killer.
- Black Widow: Mike Myers parodies the trope — his character believes he is dating the mysterious "Mrs. X." She's not. Turns out her sister was an insane Clingy Jealous Girl who murdered all of the poor girl's previous husbands (she thought they had all just up and left her).
- Call-Back: In the last scene, Charlie revisits the poem he had written after he had broken up with Harriet, though it's reworded to be much more complimentary.
- Cassandra Truth: All those tabloid articles. There really is a Mrs. X out there killing guys. Also, Harriet at the end tells Tony exactly what's going on and how Tony needs to go save Charlie (while Charlie's screams for help and the sound of axe impacts can be heard in the background), but Tony doesn't believe it (though, to be fair, the evidence gathered so far does implicate Harriet).
- Conspiracy Theorist: Charlie's dad:Stuart Mackenzie: Well, it's a well known fact, Sonny Jim, that there's a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world - known as The Pentavirate - who run everything in the world - including the newspapers - and meet tri-annually at a secret country mansion in Colorado, known as "The Meadows".Tony Giardino: So who's in this Pentavirate?Stuart Mackenzie: The Queen, The Vatican, The Gettys, The Rothschilds, and Colonel Sanders before he went tits up. Oh, I hated the Colonel with 'is wee beady eyes, and that smug look on his face. "Oh, you're gonna buy my chicken! Ohhhhh!"Charlie Mackenzie: Dad, how can you hate "The Colonel"?Stuart Mackenzie: Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smartarse!
- Charlie mocks his parents for being so gullible, but their paranoia has clearly rubbed off on him over the years.
- Cooldown Hug: "Somebody needs a hug!"
- Da Chief: Parodied-a police detective expresses dissatisfaction that his job is not more like the movies - partly because his boss, far from this trope (see above trope), is a pleasant, amiable and good-natured administrator with an easy-going temper.
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Charlie's wedding party has his dad (also play by Mike Myers) singing "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" accompanied by bagpipes. When the old player drops, dad announces "We have a piper down!"
- Fingore: Charlie hangs off the roof for dear life while being pursued by Rose. Thinking that she can't find him, Rose inadvertently crushes Charlie's fingers, alerting her to his presence.
- Flashed-Badge Hijack: Subverted when a cop stops a passing motorist, but can't get him to give up his vehicle. He has to settle for getting a ride from the driver to the crime-in-progress.
- Foot Popping: Charlie, kissing his bride at the altar, dressed in a kilt.
- Foreshadowing: Charlie opens the shower door thinking he'll see Harriet but instead sees Rose. Later, he suspects Harriet of being Mrs. X but it turns out to be Rose.
- "Friends" Rent Control: Charlie appears to be a full-time beat poet (and doesn't apparently work very hard at it), and yet can afford a nice apartment in San Francisco. Probably also applies to Harriet and her sister, who have an enormous loft in the same city, while Harriet's just a butcher (no clue on what her sister is).
- Giftedly Bad: Charlie and his poetry. And he most likely is aware of how bad he is at it, given the last line of the lament poem he reads to Harriet before they reunite.Charlie: This poem...sucks.
- Groin Attack: Inverted when Charlie is struck in the crotch by Rose. He responds in kind and it's shown to have an effect.
- Ironic Echo Cut: When Rose first meets Charlie, she offers to make him a rather lush and varied breakfast and asks if he wants some. After Charlie agrees, the scene immediately cuts to Rose pouring a bowl of cereal and admitting that she can't make any of what she described.
- Love Makes You Evil: The hidden setup as we find out in The Reveal. It is questionable, however, on whether Rose, who is the culprit is actually insane the whole time.
- Lurid Tales of Doom: The entire premise of the film is triggered by a sensational story in the Weekly World News, which turns out to be true.
- Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: This is something of a recurring gag for the main character, and it even foreshadows things that are to come later in the movie.
- Mistaken for Murderer: The premise of the film.
- Naked First Impression: Two examples:
- Charlie first meets Rose when he opens the shower door, thinking she's Harriet.
- Harriet introduces Charlie to her friend Ralph while Charlie is wearing a Modesty Towel which promptly falls off.
- Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: Charlie must have a job, right? Some kind of job, other than... occasional poet. Some dialogue early in the film implies that he may own the coffee shop/nightclub/poetry house he hangs out at (If so, he still seems to be a very hands-off owner).
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: After overhearing two obituary writers making flippant jokes about recently deceased people who've crossed their desk, Charlie realizes that one of them may be a victim of Mrs. X and tries to find out whether the deceased had a wife. One of the writers thinks that Charlie's rebuking him for his insensitivity. An argument ensues.Charlie: Did they mention anything about his wife?
Obituary Writer #1: [Chastened] Alright, okay, look, I know that we're talkin' about real people here, so I'm sorry.
Charlie: No no, I'm serious — did they mention the wife?
Obituary Writer #1: Look, I'm sorry, you know, I-I-I didn't mean to make a joke about other people's lives.
Charlie: No no, I'm really serious, did they mention the wife? I just want to know about the wife.
Obituary Writer #1: [Increasingly agitated] You win! You win. I'm a bad person!
Obituary Writer #2: Hey c'mon, take it easy, will ya?
Obituary Writer #1: Well, he's sayin' I'm insensitive! He's sayin' I'm a shit!
Obituary Writer #2: He's not sayin' you're a shit!
Charlie: [Trying to get a word in edgewise] Did they mention his wife? Did they mention his wife?!
Obituary Writer #1: [Losing it completely] NO! THEY DIDN'T MENTION THE WIFE! YOU HAPPY?!?! [Begins to storm off; everyone's staring at him] OH-HO, YES! I'M INSENSITIVE! I'M A BAD PERSON! STOP YOUR JOBS! LOOK AT THE INSENSITIVE MAN! THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE PAYING YOU FOR!
Obituary Writer #2: [to Charlie] ...He was my ride home.
- Precision F-Strike: When Rose's axe thuds into the dresser right in front of Charlie and he shouts "What the Fuck?!"
- The Reveal: Harriet doesn't turn out to be "Mrs. X", it's her sister Rose.
- Talking in Your Sleep: Charlie is awakened by Harriet shouting "RALPH!" in her sleep.
- Tough Room: Averted! Tony cracks up and completely loses it laughing at Mr. Mackenzie's rants (because his actor Anthony LaPaglia couldn't keep a straight face through any of it, either).
- Violent Glaswegian: According to Charlie, the Scots have their own form of martial arts called "Fuck-You" which is comprised of "...mostly headbutts, and then kicking the other person when they're on the ground."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Was Charlie ever able to find his cat that his last ex took with her? Did she even take it, or was that just his excuse to get out of the relationship?
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Tony is unaware that he's in a comedy and tries his best to act out the stereotypical Cowboy Cop routine, to the point of goading his avuncular, easygoing boss into acting like Da Chief.
- Yandere: Harriet, who becomes a bit unhinged after winning over Charlie. In a subversion, this is because all of her previous husbands abandoned her and she's developed a complex — or so she thinks. Turns out Harriet's sister was an insane Yandere for Harriet. She murdered Harriet's husbands and faked their deaths to keep Harriet to herself and nearly does the same to Charlie near the end.