Adam Sandler’s second comedy with Netflix cannot be as bad as the dismal THE RIDICULOUS 6 which at present still holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. MURDER MYSTERY is actually quite funny, given a little more class with Jennifer Anniston as Sandler’s co-star, not to mention the luxury yacht and European setting.
Sandler typically plays the poor man’s fool, in this case a New York City police officer.
Nick Spitz (Sandler) finally takes his wife, Audrey (Aniston) on a long-promised European trip. En flight, a chance meeting with a mysterious man, Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans) gets them invited to an intimate family gathering on the super yacht of an elderly billionaire, Malcolm Quince (a cameo from Terence Stamp). When the wealthy man is murdered, they become the prime suspects of French Inspector Laurent Delacroix (Dany Boon). At one hilarious point, the Spitzes are questioned by the millionaire Quince what they are doing on his ship.
The script which is quite well composed by James Vanderbilt, who seems to understand these things, puts together several genres, the most important of which is the murder mystery genre. At one point, Nick even puts forth the classic 3 basic motives for murder. As they try to uncover the identity of the killer, they put together the three motives of money, revenge and love. The murder mystery portion is played straight unlike other comedies of this sort, most notably Neil Simon’s MURDER BY DEATH or his THE CHEAP DETECTIVE. The humour in the film arrives primarily from the couple’s bickering and their foolhardiness in their attempts to escape the killer. The funniest jokes are also inconsequential to the plot but they are funny. Two notable ones (not to be revealed here) involve angry flossing (this has to be seen to be believed) and the line’Ask Siri”.
The film also contains an impressive list of international stars. Little Britain’s David Walliams plays Tobias Quince, Malcolm’s gay son. One wishes there is more of Waliams. French popular Dany Boon plays his inspector quite seriously though he bumbles the investigation as much as Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau. New Mexican star and heart-throb Luis Gerardo Mendez plays race car driver Juan Carlos.
Sandler and Anistan make a good movie couple, in love but still bickering over small things. “Will you stop questioning all I do?” asks Nick at one point. “But everything you do is questionable.” is Audrey’s response. What is also touching in the movie is the fact that each of them, being in the marriage for a while is able to tolerate and forgive each other. Even when Nick has lied to Audrey that he was a detective. The story illustrates how a solid relationship in a marriage can survive – a point subtly made in the film.
MURDER MYSTERY is not the best comedy around or not a message movie that will answer questions in life, though it tries to answer the question what a maharaja is. But for a Netflix film to be watched in the comfort of ones home, it makes an excellent choice for an evening film. It has a good mystery, is funny and light and is what one needs after a hard day at work.