Trying to understand the types of stories audiences want to see in a movie is by far the biggest challenge of the film industry; it’s always been. In a world with approximately 14 million streaming platforms, and a dozen new movies hitting theaters every week, people can almost have any story they are in the mood for one click away; and yet, the infamous doom-scrolling down the Netflix app takes up as much time as watching the movie we finally settle for.
For some reason we can’t quite comprehend yet, people, more often than not, settle for Adam Sandler turn-your-brain-off comedies that rarely put a smile on any viewer above 15; audiences know exactly what they are getting from them, and they won’t ask for anything more. Murder Mystery 2 is the latest in that saga.
The film, which also stars Jennifer Anniston, is the sequel to the 2019 ratings annihilator for Netflix, which focused on a 15-year-long marriage in peril after becoming too monotonous. Trying to break from the daily routine, Adam Sandler’s Nick Spitz takes his wife Audrey (Anniston) on the Europe honeymoon he’d promised her 15 years earlier; during the trip, they become involved in a murder and try to solve it using Nick’s detective abilities and Audrey’s knowledge of the murder mystery literary genre.
In the sequel, which was released on Netflix on March 31, we see how the two have now used what they learned from their European murderous adventure and have started a new private investigator business together, which doesn’t go very well. After they are invited to a wedding, they find themselves once again in the middle of the action, when their friend the Maharaja (Adeel Akhtar, returning from the first movie) gets kidnapped.
Murder Mystery 2 is an improvement upon the first one, for whatever that’s worth
James Vanderbilt returns to pen the script for the sequel, which had Jeremy Garelick step in as director. The humor is definitely a step up, and the paid-by-numbers nature of the first one is at least slightly improved in the sequel, which does try a few new things at the story level and mixes in a murder mystery with a kidnapping case, which lends its way for a much more frenetic plot.
The idea of having them run a failed PI firm is quite intriguing too, which allows audiences to be pulled in right from the beginning. However, besides watching this particular set of actors (who are joined by Mark Strong and Jodie Turner-Smith, among others) have fun on set, there is unfortunately not much to Murder Mystery 2.
The plot, much like any murder mystery, is intended to keep the audience guessing the whole time, but the key to a movie filled with twists lies in making the audience invested in what they are watching, and Murder Mystery 2 plays as a background movie more than an actual character study. If you are looking for something deeper worthy of the title, you might want to check out Scott Cooper’s The Pale Blue Eye (for a more serious tone), or Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion (for a more satirical tone), both on Netflix; and that’s coming from someone who thought the Knives Out sequel was a writing mess — the dialogues, however, are Shakespearean when compared to Vanderbilt’s.
The bottom line here is that the comedy doesn’t really land. Adam Sandler has definitely proven his worth in the drama arena these past few years, with his one-two-punch Netflix hits Uncut Gems and last year’s Hustle. But Murder Mystery 2 has yet another self-absorbed character who never grew out of his teenage years and married to a (highly clichéd) woman who seems like she settled for the guy she dated in rebound mode. Anniston clearly needed a break from her much more serious and at times soul-consuming The Morning Show, which is also in a different league in terms of quality.
At its core, these movies try to make a point about marriage and how, despite its highs and lows, the key to a successful one is to understand that it is about sharing our life with another person; Sandler’s Nick sees in his wife the hot girl from high school, while Audrey, supposedly much more mature, sees in Nick someone to wake up with every morning and tell him about her day every night.
The movie will definitely prove to be another success for Netflix in terms of ratings, but the number of people that will subscribe to the platform to watch this is absolutely negligible. It will play, however, with fans who are just looking for something to take a nap to this weekend, or just looking for something to watch as a family on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
What are your thoughts on Murder Mystery 2? Are you a fan of comedic Adam Sandler, or do you prefer his more serious side, like in Uncut Gems? Did you watch the first one, and are you planning on watching the second one? Have you done it already? Let us know on our social media, and stay tuned for more reviews!
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