• Nate Adams

Review: Contrived Netflix comedy 'Murder Mystery' isn't a case worth solving


Courtesy of Netflix 

Adam Sandler strikes again.

Or maybe Netflix strikes again - considering their keeping Sandler’s brand of potty and childish humor in business under the Happy-Madison production label. The sad thing is Sandler can act, we’ve seen him push real boundaries and layers in films like “The Meyerowitz Stories” (a far superior Netflix alternative) and “Men, Woman, and Children.” Proving that when he applies himself to solid material, the man is something to behold. 

In “Murder Mystery” - the latest Sandler vacation that’s a contrived rip off of any Agatha Chrstie novel (probably the nicest complement you could bestow upon a Happy-Madison comedy) - Sandler not only commits to the art of idiotic debauchery, but he brings down respectable actors Luke Evans, Terrence Stamp, and good friend Jennifer Aniston with him. Spoiler alert: Stamp gets axed with minimal screen-time, and thus I confer his career could still recover - the same I’m not sure can be said about Evans which, between this and “Ma,” has some soul searching to do.

Nevertheless, Sandler and Aniston play Nick and Audrey Spitz (yes Spitz with a capital Z), who are on the brink of celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary and to cherish such an occasion, decide to take a last second trip to Europe. Never mind costs and expenses (which Nick’s salary as a trying detective and Audrey’s wages as a hairdresser in the boroughs of New York City would never cover), and on the plane ride oversees the two meet the sleazy and bureaucratic Charles Cavendish (and with a name like that it can only be played by Evans) who decides to invite the vacation seeking couple on his lavish yacht for the week in lieu of their other, much lamer and much cheaper, plans.

You see, Cavendish is heir to some family dynasty and this shindig happening is basically confirming his ascension - except his pesky father (Terrance Stamp) decides to write his entire money hungry family out of his will. But before he can sign on the dotted line, the power cuts out and, wouldn’t you know, the lights come on to reveal a giant dagger in his chest. I wish it would’ve ended there - but the suspects get lined up one by one with obvious motives in hand and the Spitz - having no real purpose for being on the yacht anyhow - are set up as the main perps of the murder despite having no monetary gain from the event. I feel terrible for the Interpol police department and their horrid depiction of themselves in this film, because I highly doubt they just pin murders on folks without any hard evidence.

I could go on and tell you about all the clueless characters who I’m not even sure could put on shoes in the morning let alone solve a murder or how Sandler and Aniston are devoid of any chemistry whatsoever - because you already know. You already know the filmmakers are only keen on giving Sandler’s comedic fanbase (which, I’m not sure who could be left at this point) the same ole’ nonsensical and generic jokes and you definitely know James Vanderblit’s screenplay doesn’t even try to have fun with the retreaded premise.

But I guess you don’t watch a film like “Murder Mystery” starring Adam Sandler for any depth - and I suppose we’ll just have to wait for lightning to stike again in the same vein as the comedian’s stand-up special “100% Fresh” - which hinders on Sandlers likes and sensibilities - did last October. If you find yourself liquored up in your living room over a long weekend, perhaps it’s worth throwing on “Murder Mystery” as subtle background noise while you’re napping the hangover away or doing the dishes. Maybe you use it as a warm-up before switching gears to the other, better, recommendations I mentioned in this review? Whichever the case, don’t watch it sober and don’t ruin your perceptions of the respectable actors who decided to take an easy paycheck. Case closed.

Grade: D