Murder Mystery 2 review: more sleuthing for Sandler and Aniston

Murder Mystery 2. (L-R) Jennifer Aniston as Audrey Spitz and Adam Sandler as Nick Spitz in Murder Mystery 2. Cr. Scott Yamano/Netflix © 2022.
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Murder Mystery 2 sees the return of Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s mystery solving central couple – here’s our review.

There’s a lot of just criticism that’s been aimed at Adam Sandler over the comedies he’s made as part of his very, very, very, very lucrative Netflix deal. Films that have left behind the suspicion that a good chunk of the budget didn’t get spent on the scripts.

I maintain that Murder Mystery is an exception to that, though. Penned by James Vanderbilt – screenwriter of films as varied as The Losers, Zodiac and the recent Scream movies – it’s a fun bit of comedy sleuthing, that wisely paired Sandler with the superb comedy chops of Jennifer Aniston.

Netflix doesn’t release numbers other than its own, of course, but it seems clear that on release in 2019, lots of us watched and enjoyed the film. Thus, it’s the first film under Sandler’s Netflix deal that’s brought us a sequel.

Plenty of the key personnel remain in place, too. Aniston and Sandler lead the ensemble again, and there are returns for John Kani, Adeel Akhtar and screenwriter James Vanderbilt. A change behind the camera, with Jeremy Garelick taking over from Kyle Newachek, and the likes of Jodie Turner-Smith and Mark Strong have been added to the cast.

Things get moving nice and quickly too. We get a quick ‘previously on Murder Mystery’ style-recap, that reintroduces us to married couple Audrey and Nick Spitz (Aniston and Sandler), firmly cementing the fact that they’re at heart piss-poor detectives. Cases are not going well, and funds are tight. But they’re clearly a happy couple that notwithstanding, and good company to spend time with.

Mark Strong in Murder Mystery 2.

Still, the title suggests we’re due a mystery, and we duly get one. This time, going very spoiler light, there’s an abduction at the heart of the film’s story, and in true Agatha Christie style, a room full of potential suspects. Add in a few signposted clues, an elephant, a fair amount of cheese and an early shot of Adam Sandler’s buttocks, and you’d fairly reasonable assume that Murder Mystery 2 is comfortable with its ingredients.

It does add a dash of glamour with its locations, with the Spitzes spending a bit of time in the Caribbean before heading for some location – and obviously not on location – work in Paris. And it’s got enough in its tank to get to the end of its surprisingly modest running time – just 80 minutes, once you lop the credits off – in some degree of tact.

It’s just not that good, though.

Netflix has scheduled this three months away from the release of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery to perhaps hope we’ve all forgotten about Rian Johnson’s terrific marriage of mystery and detective work. Or even that we’ve not switched over to Disney+ and caught up on the underrated See How They Run. Furthermore, Kenneth Branagh is in post-production of his third Poirot movie, that’s due in September 2023. The end of March seems about the most available slot for Murder Mystery 2.

Yet the shadow of all of those films hangs over it, and the comparisons are not in Murder Mystery 2’s favour. The mystery in the other films is better than the one here, for instance, and you’re going to guffaw much more at Glass Onion and See How They Run that you are at Murder Mystery 2. It’s not a bad film in its own right, but it’s a prime example of paling by comparison to those around it. And there are, bluntly, lots of other options out there at the moment.

To its credit, Murder Mystery 2 is breezily directed, and Aniston is a particular standout. Plus, give me a film where Mark Strong pops in for a bit, and I can’t particularly grumble. Yet it feels like – locations aside – a really quite unambitious way to follow up a rather enjoyable original romp. Netflix knows this too, and whilst I’d expect Murder Mystery 2 to notch up decent numbers for the streamer, both it and us are far more likely to be interested in whatever shape Knives Out 3 takes over a third outing for the Spitzes.

Murder Mystery 2 is streaming now on Netflix.

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