The career of the comedic tornado that is Adam Sandler is one that many people have conflicting opinions on. There are his longstanding, loyal fans, who have been with him since either the Airheads and Mixed Nuts days (the former now featuring an Academy Award winner in Brendan Fraser, of course), or The Wedding Singer. Ot there are those who have sampled his unique delights through his extensive and expensive Netflix deal in recent years; or there are those who simply cannot stand his childish eccentricities and cast his films aside immediately, despite the dramatic and more adult-leaning work that has garnered acclaim. Lightweight and juvenile, sure, but he has always had an audience, and like Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, and others before him, his ability to free audiences from concern in whatever way possible is what people ultimately love.
With Murder Mystery 2, the latest effort as part of his multi-million, multi-picture deal with Netflix – one that garnered many raised eyebrows when first signed I’m 2014 but now looks like a highly healthy investment – Sandler matures his usual shtick somewhat (relax, there’s still fart and penis jokes and silly laughs) but perhaps his recent foray into the world of Uncut Gems and The Safdie Brothers has rubbed off on him in a positive way. Sure, this is still a comedy and has all the trimmings therein but there’s something more grown up (we’ll get our coat) about this one, even over its predecessor which, frankly, was one of his most horrendous efforts. With the guidance of the always incomparable Aniston, whose comedic timing is at its best here, the two make up for the mind-numbingly awfulness of part one for a fresher, funnier outing. When do you say that about comedy sequels??
Having solved the titular game of whodunit in the first film, the Spitz’s have now become full-time private investigators to pretty rubbish effect. An invitation to the wedding of their old pal Maharajah (Adeel Akthar) to his new love Claudette (Mélanie Laurent) on a private island with all expenses paid helps free them from the home tensions about whether to give up the new job or not. However, before you can say Club Tropicana, the Maharajah is kidnapped and a new mystery presents itself. And, with the SAS Agent Miller (Mark Strong) quickly dispatched to the island, the race is on to find out who has taken him.
So, more mystery than murder this time – that doesn’t mean there isn’t any, mind you – and rather than rehash what transpired before, the MM team has upped the secret agent/action side of the mystery to surprisingly effective levels. There’s immediately an air of enjoyment and fun with the film, fuelled by Sandler and Aniston’s notable chemistry alongside its winning ensemble, whilst director Jeremy Garelick‘s bright direction keeps things nimble and fluid. Indeed, at barely 90 minutes, the film sweeps through at an energetic pace that allows it to never overstay its welcome. Not all the jokes land and some characters fall by the wayside in favour of the dynamic duo at the top, but for a sequel the hit rate is surprisingly high. Not bad following such a horrendous first film.
Comedy, Action | 2023 | Netflix and selected cinemas March 31st | 12A | Dir: Jeremy Garelick | Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Mark Strong, Adeel Akhtar, Melanie Laurent, Jodie Turner-Smith, John Kani