Murder Mystery 2: Review
Bumbling detectives Nick and Audrey Spitz find themselves in the crosshairs of another deadly case when their billionaire friend is suddenly kidnapped in Murder Mystery 2.
I would not blame any readers if they forgot the original Murder Mystery even existed. The comedic whodunnit starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston served as a continuation of Sandler's ongoing film deal with Netflix.
To Sandler's credit, the fun-loving comedian boasts incredible business acumen. He signed a contract with Netflix in 2015 at a time when original movies made for streaming services were not commonplace. The risk by Sandler turned out to be a prophetic decision, with comedies quickly becoming a streaming fixture while they gradually vanished from the silver screen.
Sandler and his casual charms are impossible to hate, although his studio comedies often inspire middling responses at best from me. My sole recollection of Murder Mystery was watching it on a car ride to a vacation destination. It served the exact purpose Netflix intends with its content - to provide a serviceable-enough distraction - yet the movie quickly faded from my memory bank mere hours after viewing. His films, in a way, are tailor-made for Netflix. It's the type of accessible, easy-going content one can put on their TV to serve as background noise or passably entertain a family audience.
Unfortunately, Murder Mystery 2 delivers a similarly beige product. The witless sequel squanders its promise in favor of a safe and uninspired mystery romp.
There are a few elements here I appreciated. In their third big-screen outing together, Sandler and Aniston continue to share a lived-in rapport as a bickering married couple. The film delivers its best gags when poking fun at the relatable relationship dynamic stemming from a long-term marriage, whether it's petty arguments over silly things or biting barbs over past experiences. Murder Mystery 2 is also a relatively painless experience, self-awarely racing to the finish line across its breezy 93-minute runtime.
Saying a movie did not cause me agony is not exactly the best endorsement. So much of Murder Mystery 2 feels self-satisfied treading familiar waters, rarely stretching its narrative and humor to engrossing new places. Screenwriter James Vanderbilt, who wrote the similarly uninspired Scream 6, creates a script that's too scattershot and inconsistent in imbuing comedic infusions within well-worn sleuth story roots. Most jokes regurgitate dated tropes and stereotypes that plagued comedies decades ago, let alone our modern times. The half-hearted approach looks even worse compared to the success of other recent whodunnit stories, like Knives Out and Only Murders in the Building, which successfully managed rising tensions with clever flourishes of levity.
As a mystery, Murder Mystery 2 does not piece together an engaging puzzle. Instead, viewers can practically set their watch to when each generic twist and turn will occur. The oppressive predictability is worsened by director Jeremy Garelick's visionless visual approach. Like most other Netflix comedies, Garelick's film embraces a dull, overly-lit sheen that would be more fitting for a lethargic sitcom rather than a globetrotting mystery. Every time the film tries to bask in its luxurious settings or expensive action setpieces, it is frankly unimpressive to watch.
Murder Mystery 2 left me with complete ambivalence. I cannot work up the passion to label the film a dreadful disaster, but Netflix users can find better options to spend their time.
Murder Mystery 2 is now playing on Netflix.