Murder Mystery 2 review: Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston sequel is a nicely mindless Netflix time-filler

This is what you watch if it seems as if ‘Glass Onion’ might require too many brain cells

Clarisse Loughrey
Friday 31 March 2023 08:00 BST
Murder Mystery 2 trailer

I can’t imagine anyone holds high expectations for the results of Adam Sandler’s $250m (£202m) deal with Netflix – not the company, its subscribers, or Sandler himself. Much of his straight-to-streaming output, such as 2016’s The Do-Over or 2017’s Sandy Wexler, seems purposefully made for quiet nights in, when the toil of the week has rotted away any ability to concentrate.

Arguably, Murder Mystery (2019) – in which he and Jennifer Aniston played a hapless couple trapped in a real-life game of Cluedo while on holiday – achieved a pinnacle in mindless distraction. It wasn’t all that funny. It wasn’t all that clever. But it was eminently watchable. It’s also funny to see how much its sequel riffs on Knives Out, seeing as the original Murder Mystery preceded that Rian Johnson film and the whodunnit craze it spawned. Because, essentially, Murder Mystery 2 is what you watch if it seems like Glass Onion might require too many brain cells.

Much like Glass Onion, this sequel packs up its protagonists and sends them off to a private island, where the elite turn out to have blood on their hands. Nick (Sandler) and Audrey Spitz (Aniston) are now in the private investigator business, and attending the wedding of a former suspect, the Maharajah (Adeel Akhtar). This lavish event is once more interrupted, not only by a murder but by a kidnapping – leaving everyone a suspect, including the Spitzes themselves.

The ultimate joke of the Murder Mystery films is that Nick and Audrey are stereotypical American tourists. They’re loud, stupid, culturally insensitive, and deeply unrefined, and that proves to be a wearisome burden to the European snobs they’re frequently surrounded by. It’s an obvious bit, and rarely does it produce a genuinely funny line. Neither do the various twists and turns live up to the fact that the film’s screenplay is written by Zodiac’s James Vanderbilt – yes, David Fincher’s Zodiac. There’s a little more action in this instalment, but it hardly makes a difference.

No one involved in Murder Mystery 2 seems to have worked with any real sense of direction, since the film is more than happy to let Sandler and Aniston take the steering wheel. There’s an easy chemistry to the pair. Sandler gets to find the midpoint between the infantile nature of his early characters and the more mellow misanthropy of, say, his work in Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories. Aniston gets to work up her trademark, tornado-powered fluster without having to force its kookiness. Neither of them breaks a sweat, and they settle into a comfortable, mildly combative register – like an actual married couple, really, with one chastising the other for gnawing directly on a block of cheese instead of taking a slice.

It certainly helps that the film’s packed to the rafters with recognisable actors like Mark Strong, Mélanie Laurent, and Jodie Turner-Smith. They might be mucking around like they’re at a murder mystery dinner party, but they’re all so uniformly talented that it’s still entertaining to watch. Or, as is more fitting for Murder Mystery 2, perhaps I should say just entertaining enough for a film like this.

Dir: Jeremy Garelick. Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Mélanie Laurent, Jodie Turner-Smith, Annie Mumolo, Tony Goldwyn, Mark Strong. 12, 134 minutes.

‘Murder Mystery 2’ is streaming on Netflix

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