Directed by: #KyleNewacheck
Written by: #JamesVanderbilt
Adam Sandler has acted in 74 movies. I bring this up because, love or hate the American actor, this guy has been a mainstay of popular cinema for freaking decades and is still carving a considerable space for himself in these troubled times for filmmakers. His latest appearance is in the #Netflix movie Murder Mystery, starring alongside Jennifer Aniston as a couple on a romantic European (delayed) honeymoon that turns into a game of Cluedo.
Luke Evans plays a mysterious and wealthy guy named Charles Cavendish, who invites our couple onto his family yacht after bumping into Aniston in first class (she was there to steal ear plugs before heading back to pleb class). Charles isn't the only noticeable character in the family, as we get introduced to a gaggle of trust fund types, each with eccentric cliches. However, once the father of the family (Terence Stamp) gets offed on the yacht before he can sign his new will, Sandler attempts to use his police skills and Aniston's love of murder mysteries to solve the crime.
It's campy, schlocky fun without a hint of pretentiousness. Yes it is banal and benign but the cast all seem to be having fun on a free holiday whilst turning in something a couple of steps elevated from amateur improv. The chemistry between Sandler and Aniston (back together for the first time since Just Go With It - I think, Sandler makes so many films) is terrific and their couple banter is on the toppest of forms when they are in the super serious situations. In particular when they are facing off against an Interpol agent (Dany Boon).
A James Vanderbilt screenplay and directed by Kyle Newacheck (Workaholics), Murder Mystery knows the legacy with which it is tangling. Given the choice between watching this and another whodunnit like Kenneth Branagh's 2017 snore fest Murder on the Orient Express, I choose this Netflix original every time.
So where does this rank among the plethora of output from the Happy Madison range? Probably somewhere around the Grown Ups level. It isn't Sandler's best work but by some distance not his worst. It is coherent and somewhat humourous whilst paying homage to the murder mysteries of the past. The archetypes are respectively ridiculed, the clichés are copiously copied, and the villainy is virtually cartoonish.