What is it with Adam Sandler? He’s a talented dramatic and comedic actor yet, with scant exceptions in recent years (The Meyerowitz Stories for one), you’d never think it. Aside from voicing Dracula in the Hotel Transylvania series, his output has been one dire so-called comedy after another. And his latest, Murder Mystery, plumbs new depths of banality, despite Netflix’s investment in lush locations and a cast who probably should have known better.
This time round he’s cop Nick Spitz (he didn’t during the film) who takes his hairdresser wife Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) on a second honeymoon to Europe to mark their 15th wedding anniversary. Befriended by toff Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans) on the plane, they’re whisked away to his yacht off the coast of Monte Carlo, where they meet his dysfunctional family, including elderly uncle Malcolm Quince (Terence Stamp) who is about to sign his will – but gets a severe cast of dagger in the chest instead. More murders follow, the collective finger is pointed at Nick and Audrey and it’s down to them to catch the real killer.
It’s perfunctory stuff, with director Kyle Newacheck and writer James Vanderbilt labouring under the illusion that they’ve produced an Agatha Christie parody. They’ve been done in the past (Murder By Death,1976) and all the ingredients are there, from the luxurious landscapes to the bungling local detective and a lingering shot of the Orient Express. Would that it were so simple. What Newacheck and Venderbilt have made contravenes the Trade Descriptions Act in calling itself a comedy, with trite and inept attempts at humour that barely raise a smile, let alone a glimmer of a laugh.
Sandler’s character is the main culprit here, socially inept and cracking lame jokes, usually with sexual overtones. But Aniston, usually a decent comic actress, doesn’t fare much better, although she makes one observation which is right on the button. Giving hubby Nick yet another dressing down for his behaviour, she tells him “Everything you do is questionable.” The same could be said for the making of the film. The rest of the cast don’t fare much better. Luke Evans coasts along by virtue of a posh English accent, Gemma Arterton models her frocks beautifully and Terence Stamp must have been relieved when he saw he was only in this sorry mess for about five minutes. None of them look as if they’re enjoying the experience.
The high-speed chase climax ends in the expected way, appropriate in a movie which is such a car crash. It’s unfunny, looks cheap at times, and not only completely wastes the cast but also your time, if you decide to watch it. Murder Mystery? Murder Misery, more like.
Freda Cooper | [rating=1]
Comedy | Netflix , 14 June (2019) | Dir. Kyle Newacheck | Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Luke Evans, Gemma Arterton, Terence Stamp and David Walliams.