Adam Sandler's recent Netflix special, "100% Fresh," is maybe the funniest thing you'll see all year. But his rotten streak gets reset with this flat, lifeless dud.
It's a wonder how someone as funny and talented as Adam Sandler can continue to deal in such dreck. "Murder Mystery" is the latest film released as part of Sandler's mega eight-movie deal he struck with Netflix in 2014 (technically it was a four-picture deal, re-upped with another four in 2017). He is paired again with Jennifer Aniston, after having starred alongside Sandler in the 2011 lemon "Just Go With It." The title of that movie seems to be the proper mindset to have when approaching an Adam Sandler comedy.
RELATED: Read Tom's review of "Just Go With It."
It's tough to be harsh on Sandler - or Aniston for that matter. Sandler was one of my all-time favorite comedians on SNL, and his early movies were must-see comedies (think "Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore" or "The Waterboy"). In all three of these modern classics, Sandler took big swings and big chances, branding his characters with a zany, goofball style of comedy that hadn't quite been seen since the days of Jerry Lewis.
But as his career marched on, his movies became increasingly dull, immature and predictable...a deadly cocktail. The closest Sandler has come to playing an eccentric character like those from early in his acting career came in his 2017 Netflix comedy, "Sandy Wexler," in which he played a washed-up talent agent. It wasn't a great movie, comedy or performance, but at least it was in Sandler's wheelhouse.
In "Murder Mystery," he opts to play it fairly straight, deadpanning most of his lines and keeping his signature outbursts in check. This is when he is the least interesting. Maybe Sandler is best in short spurts, despite his early success in Hollywood, because his best comedy has come from SNL (short sketches), audio albums (like his absolutely hilarious "They're All Gonna Laugh at You!" 1993 debut album), or through his music, best portrayed in that recent "100% Fresh" Netflix special. For real: That special was a return to form for Adam, and a reminder that this is one funny guy.
And I think a lot of the negativity he gets is due to the fact that we all want him to be funny. We are rooting for you Adam! But you have to call a (David) Spade a spade, and "Murder Mystery" is just another bland failure, and another reminder that just because Sandler is a comedic genius, that doesn't mean he's fully capable of being a part of very, very bad movies.
Aniston is equally likable and she at least gives comedy a go in "Murder Mystery." The two play a married couple that go off on a European vacation, only to find themselves enveloped in a real-life murder mystery.
While it's good to see them together, the laughs in "Murder Mystery" are few and far between. Of course, the real mystery is why Adam Sandler - brilliant one minute and painfully unfunny the next - continues to take stabs at a movie career, when his talents seem to lie elsewhere.
Genre: Comedy, Action, Mystery.
Run Time: 1 hour 37 minutes.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Gemma Arterton, Luke Evans, Terence Stamp, Adeel Akhtar, Shioli Kutsuna.
Directed by Kyle Newacheck ("Game Over, Man!").
"Murder Mystery" is available on Netflix beginning Friday, June 14th, 2019.
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