'Murder Mystery 2' review: Sandler and Aniston caught in another lazy whodunit
Courtesy of Netflix
Hard to believe that within the last 6 months Netflix unveiled “Glass Onion,” Rian Johnson’s smart, winning, and engaging whodunit that understood how to use a stacked cast in service of a narrative with actual stakes. Now comes the Wal-Mart bargain bin version with “Murder Mystery 2,” a sequel to 2019’s “Murder Mystery,” a film you’ve long forgotten about, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston playing the couple caught in another globe-trotting kidnapping/murder plot where the movie’s best idea of humor is blatantly acknowledging genre cliches before doing them on repeat. It looks like everyone was having fun, especially Sandler who rarely gets to display action chops (here he takes down an arsenal of bad guys inside a runaway minivan), and the roster of familiar faces, some from the first movie you probably can’t remember alongside the fresh suspects, seem content with taking a nice vacation and paycheck. Honestly, who could blame them?
The result is a movie Netflix subscribers can throw on as background noise while they’re folding laundry or doom scrolling on their phone, because nothing in Jeremy Garelick’s film is consequential. Sandler and Aniston return as the married couple turned private detectives, Nick and Audrey Spitz (not “Shits” in one of the movies abysmal running gags) who get invited to the wedding of Maharajah (Adeel Akhtar), a friend from the first movie whom I had no recollection of, and are naturally entangled within an Agatha Christie inspired globe-trotting adventure where the best locations resemble blurry screensavers. To its credit, it does have a better aesthetic than another Netflix clunker, “Red Notice,” with its view of the Paris countryside and a climatic finish atop the Eiffel Tower.
“Muder Mystery 2” also has the added benefit of featuring a strong supporting cast, Mark Strong is cheekily on brand playing a world renowned international sleuth; French star Melanie Laurent adds levity in a thankless role as the Maharajah’s bride-to-be, and “Queen & Slim” standout Jodie Turner-Smith dishes the tea playing a lavish Countess, but their talents aren’t utilized in the same way Johnson juggled his buzzy cast. Instead, they are reduced to stereotypical punchlines about the way they look or talk.
What more would anyone expect from a sequel to a mediocre Netflix movie few people remember. For Sandler, it’s easy money and you almost want to commend the comedian in forging deals that allow him complete freedom and flexibility. I suppose if, for every “Murder Mystery 2,” we get something close to his “Billy Madison,” days ala “Hubie Halloween,” or serious dramatic works (“Hustle” or “Uncut Gems”) perhaps it might be worth the gamble, but it’s hard to see any silver lining in a movie this unfunny and uninspired. The good news? It’s only a meager 93 minutes.
MURDER MYSTERY 2 is now streaming on Netflix.