It's hard to know or measure the success of a streaming-only movie, especially because sites like Netflix rarely, if ever, divulge much information about them. We do know though, that Adam Sandler has had a multi-picture deal with Netflix, and from that deal came 2019's "Murder Mystery." It was the rare film, in that critics and audiences agreed that it sucked (it boasts a 44% approval score from RottenTomatoes critics and audiences).
But in today's day and age, success can come in many different forms, and the powers-that-be decided to green-light a sequel. The innovatively-titled "Murder Mystery 2" is now streaming, despite nobody asking for it to exist.
Is Sandler out of ideas when it comes to comedies? Surely he could have came with an original idea to fulfill his promise to Netflix, instead of trying to squeeze life out of an existing, lifeless movie. But here we are.
The good news is that "Murder Mystery 2" is a lot better than the first film, a low bar indeed, but still a marked improvement. Nick (Sandler) and his wife Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) return, now a detective-duo following the events of the first film. Nick's friend, Maharajah (Adeel Akhtar) returns as well, and kicks off this new adventure after inviting Nick and Audrey to attend his lavish wedding to the beautiful Claudette (Mélanie Laurent). A murder occurs (naturally) and the duo are swept up in all of the shenanigans of trying to figure out who-did-it, while trying to outsmart the murderers themselves.
You almost forgive (almost) "Murder Mystery 2" because it doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. This is the slightest of slight comedies...a harmless, watered-down romp that clocks in officially at 89 minutes, but is actually closer to 80 minutes long before the credits roll. That run time, in and of itself, is a rarity. But it speaks to the thinness of the entirety. There's no real depth, no real thrills and no real stakes. That's all fine and dandy, except there are also no real laughs...and that's a big problem.
Sandler becomes funnier as this movie moves along (his character was strangely relegated to straight-man duty for most of the first film), and has a game scene partner in Aniston. Both are OK, I guess...these are two talented individuals who can both be EXTREMELY funny when they want to be, but neither seem like they were too invested in making this movie anything other than what it is. The film shoots primarily in Hawaii and Paris - two exotic locations that I'm sure had something to do with getting them to do this film in the first place.
As a viewer, I sometimes feel insulted when a movie tries desperately to convince me that it's clever or funny. This movie doesn't do that. It's hard to hate on "Murder Mystery 2" when it's overall attitude is nonchalant. Sandler and Aniston both deserve better, but for now, mediocre will have to do.
Genre: Comedy, Action, Crime.
Run Time: 1 hour 29 minutes.
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler, Mark Strong, Mélanie Laurent, John Kani, Jodie Turner-Smith, Kuhoo Verma, Adeel Akhtar, Dany Boon.
Directed by Jeremy Garelick ("The Binge," "The Wedding Ringer").
"Murder Mystery 2" is available to stream on Netflix on Friday, March 31st, 2023.
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