Murder Mystery 2 (now on Netflix) finds Adam Sandler, after inspired roles in Uncut Gems and Hustle, back to his old formula: Making heedless comedies while on vacation (in this case, Hawaii and Paris) with his friends (now-three-time co-star Jennifer Aniston) for Netflix (eight times now, nine if you count his stand-up special). His new outing is a sequel to 2019’s Murder Mystery, which is memorable for being remarkably unmemorable, and for being one of Netflix’s most viewed movies at the time. I sigh deeply, knowing light-to-mediumweight Fandlers everywhere will fire up Netflix this weekend not knowing he has a new movie out and see Murder Mystery 2 on the front page and half-heartedly but also compulsively press play and let it flicker in front of them until they get bored or it’s over, whichever comes first – and it’ll absolutely be in Netflix’s Top 10 movies for a while, because RIPD, an utter hunk of moldering crap, spent a lot of time there recently, and this is no RIPD, not at all. Compared to it, Murder Mystery 2 is Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, or maybe just The King’s Daughter. Apologies for the digression; I’m just trying to entertain myself where the movie didn’t, but now it’s time to bear down and get this thing done.
The Gist: Two years after the events of Murder Mystery, Nick (Sandler) and Audrey (Aniston) turned their insightful cracking of the thing in the title of that movie into careers as self-employed husband-and-wife private detectives. You may recall that he was a frustrated cop who never made detective, and she was a hairdresser with a love of murder-mystery novels, but now – well, they don’t seem particularly prosperous in their new endeavor. Business is in the shitter, maybe because they aren’t very good at solving crimes? That remains to be seen, as long as the movie can stay focused, which it can’t, so, spoiler alert, it gets distracted from being the very thing that’s in its own title.
Our protags get a reprieve from their bickering when their friend from the first movie, the Maharajah (Adeel Akhtar), calls to invite them to his wedding. This weekend! On his private tropical island! All expenses paid! Cut to: A helicopter transporting them to the gorgeous locale, where the flamingos are diapered so they don’t dot the landscape with their fecal deposits. They stay in a luxury villa with a convertible roof and all the succulent cheese they can woof down their cheeseholes, and the camera lingers on the cheese knife for some unknown reason.
After some dinking around, the wedding happens. The Maharajah is supposed to ride into the party on an elephant, but the man on the elephant is not the Maharajah, and the man is dead, and Nick runs outside and sees the Maharajah being kidnapped by a man with a machine gun. Looks like Nick and Audrey have… something… to solve. The dead guy isn’t an important character, so who cares about that, because what’s another dead person on a planet of 7.8 billion? They deduce the kidnapper had to have a partner, so they assess the key players: The bride, Claudette (Melanie Laurent). The Maharajah’s sister, Saira (Kuhoo Verma). The Colonel (John Kani), returning from the first movie. A former soccer star and forever lothario who keeps hitting on Audrey, Francisco (Enrique Arce). And the Countess (Jodie Turner-Smith), the Maharajah’s ex, and her flunky Imani (Zurin Villanueva). One of them MUST be guilty of not murder, but being a partner to kidnapping a wealthy man and holding him for ransom. Will our vaguely professional, mostly amateur dicks Nick and Audrey solve it? Or will they be forced to defer to an expert detective character played by Mark Strong who literally frogmans in to strongarm them out? And do we give a snot either way?
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: It’s nice to see Murdery Mystery 2 doesn’t rip off Knives Out or Glass Onion or Death on the Nile or Murder on the Orient Express (or Poker Face!), because it doesn’t even follow through on the title. Shoulda called it Murder Mystery 2: Actually a Kidnapping Mystery (Which is Actually a Mess).
Performance Worth Watching: I will use this space to mention that hiring Melanie Laurent to be in a movie and then not giving Melanie Laurent even half of a single interesting thing to do is a waste of Melanie Laurent’s gifts.
Memorable Dialogue: The narrator’s opening spiel: “With business struggling, Nick and Audrey could only pray for a miracle – that someone close to them would be killed.”
Sex and Skin: None.
Our Take: I’m convinced that Murder Mystery 2 was written in a state where weed is legal and gummies are sold like Indiana roadside fireworks: Buy one get six free!!!!!! The film attempts to upend the murder-mystery formula by not setting up the usual arrange-the-characters-and-suss-out-the-killer plot, instead surprising us with random bullshit diddlefarting gobbledygook nonsense rigamarole that’s the screenplay equivalent of stringing together a bunch of silly words in a row and trying to will the result to be funny. Which it is not – subjectively speaking, of course, since the things that make you laugh may not be the things that make me laugh, which doesn’t make you or me better than me or you, just different. Hugs! For you AND me!
Now, back to explaining why this movie sucks. Sandler isn’t as lackadaisical in this film as he has been in recent junkfood comedies under his Happy Madison production banner; he seems to be beyond sleepwalking through The Ridiculous 6es and Grown Upses of the world. Aniston injects a little spirit into the proceedings, but the movie has no use for anyone with too much energy, and therefore pushes her off the Eiffel Tower to dangle, once, twice, maybe three times? I lost count. Director Jeremy Garelick (The Binge) stages a streets-of-Paris out-of-control car chase that wrecks a lot of shit and concludes with the silliest crash-through-a-wall scene since Freebie and the Bean, so give him credit, not for choreographing a mediocre action sequence, but for making me think of Freebie and the Bean.
I think – and please note, coming to any firm conclusion about this slipshod slop is a mighty challenge – Murder Mystery 2 might be attempting to satirize the current murder-mystery revival by having the characters make Scream-like self-commentary, e.g., “Triple cross! Ha hee hee hee,” stuff like that, you know, to keep us on our toes before it deviates from the whodunit and becomes a sub-Ratner action-comedy. And then, after less than 80 minutes have passed, the credits roll. Good job, everyone! Payday is Friday.
Our Call: SKIP IT. The unrelenting, unapologetic mediocrity of Murder Mystery continues with this sequel.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
By: Ny Post