A comedy that throws together Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston for a second time (after they were paired up in the enjoyable Just Go With It), Murder Mystery is a fairly enjoyable comedy thriller that allows the leads to work together just as well as they did the first time around. A lot of people will already be dismissive of it, Sandler's name nowadays is enough to make many steer clear, but this is a perfectly fine way to spend just over an hour and a half.
Sandler is Nick Spitz, a New York police officer who keeps failing the detective exam. He's really good at the detection part, sometimes, but is a lousy shot. Aniston is his wife, Audrey, and she is delighted to hear the "good news" when her husband cannot bring himself to admit that he failed the exam once more. As their wedding anniversary is coming up, it seems like the perfect time for that trip to Europe that had been delayed for years and years. And that's where they meet Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans), who ends up inviting him to a private party on a large and lavish yacht, which is when someone is murdered. And Mr & Mrs Spitz turn out to be very prime suspects in the eyes of Inspector de la Croix (Dany Boon).
Directed by Kyle Newacheck (who I am now familiar with after enduring Game Over, Man!) and written by James Vanderbilt (who has a filmography that includes the high of Zodiac and the low of something like Independence Day: Resurgence), I have to admit that my hopes weren't high for this. As much as I have tried to maintain my positivity when it comes to Sandler movies, his work over the past 10-15 years has been far from his best, to put it mildly. The fact that everyone pulls together to make something moderately entertaining is a very pleasant surprise indeed. Newacheck may not have the best eye, or any sense of style, but he does fine when it comes to keeping the energy building from scene to scene, allowing small gags to pile up in between the attempted bigger laughs (which don't work as well), and generally giving the leads room to play around with their interplay and physical comedy.
Vanderbilt hasn't crafted any kind of comedy classic here but he plays to the strengths of the cast. Sandler and Aniston have great chemistry together, Evans gets to be completely charming with almost every line he utters, and there is fun to be had with Terence Stamp being gruff, David Walliams being a bit catty, Gemma Arterton being a gorgeous actress, and, well, you can see what I mean.
The performances are all decent too, with the not-inconsiderate plus point of Sandler not putting on a "funny" voice for his main character. Everyone I've already mentioned does a good job, and there's also room for fun with John Kaji and Adeel Akhtar, as well as one or two others.
If you're a cynic then you could look at Murder Mystery and say that the thriller aspect isn't as good as it could be, the laughs aren't as prolific, and the set-pieces aren't anywhere near as ambitious as they could be. But that doesn't mean that any of those things are actually bad. They are all enjoyable, without reaching a level of greatness. And I know the fact that many aspects of this film are enjoyable makes the end result a lot better than most of you were expecting.
You could get yourself a boxset of Sandler movies here.
Americans can get a comedy collection here.