REVIEW: “Murder Mystery 2” (2023)

(CLICK HERE to read my full review in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

It can be a little challenging to understand Netflix’s metrics for what constitutes a financial success on their platform. To my knowledge the streaming leader hasn’t really opened up about their formula. But rather than box office ticket sales, they seem to mostly rely on viewer counts, click rates, and (of course) revenue, specifically new subscribers coinciding with an original film’s release. And most certainly production budgets have to figure in.

Some believe reviews play a part, which is funny considering Netflix signed and extended a lucrative development deal with Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions whose films are routinely hammered by critics. Obviously it’s because Sandler’s films are (by some measure) profitable. Take his 2019 comedy “Murder Mystery”. While I don’t think Netflix ever formally announced the film’s production budget, they did share that it broke a number of the platform’s streaming records at the time despite a pretty tepid reception from critics.

But whether on the big screen or a streaming service, we live in an age of sequels which leads to “Murder Mystery 2”, the latest lightweight Sandler concoction that sees him and several of his friends enjoying more vacation time on Netflix’s dime. This time it’s to the Caribbean and Paris. That means we’re guaranteed some gorgeous sun-soaked island vistas and the beautiful sites of the City of Lights. Unfortunately that’s about all we get.

Image Courtesy of Netflix

“Murder Mystery” wasn’t a great movie, but it wasn’t a terrible watch either. In fact, it had its moments and was significantly more tolerable than much of what has come out of the Happy Madison camp. But nothing about its slack and uninspired sequel clicks. It feels as if Sandler and company are simply cashing checks and coasting. There’s no doubt the cast is having a good time. Unfortunately the fun they seem to be having doesn’t exactly carry over to us.

Following the events of the first film, husband and wife Nick (Sandler) and Audrey (Aniston) Spitz have quit their jobs and gone into the private detecting business. But unfortunately for them, business hasn’t been good. Audrey thinks they need to be officially licensed if they want to make it as private dicks. Nick thinks all they need is better marketing. It never occurred to them that maybe they simply aren’t very good at it. Regardless, their struggles has led to some tension in their marriage.

Then they get a call from The Maharajah (Adeel Akhtar), a billionaire Indian businessman and wannabe rapper from the first film. He tells them he’s about to get married to a French woman named Claudette (Mélanie Laurent – how did she get involved in this?) and invites them for an all expenses paid stay on his private island to attend their wedding. Mutually agreeing that they need a break from “work”, Nick and Audrey take his offer and are whisked away on their posh tropical getaway.

Image Courtesy of Netflix

Things seem to be going great until the night of the bride and groom’s extravagant rehearsal dinner. A bodyguard is murdered and the Maharajah is kidnapped and taken off the island. Without much thought, Nick and Audrey immediately deduce that someone on the inside is working with the kidnappers. Their list of suspects includes the soon-to-be married Claudette, the Maharajah’s antisocial sister Saira (Kuhoo Verma), a womanizing former soccer player Francisco (Enrique Arce), and a snooty rich countess named Sekou (Jodie Turner-Smith).

Returning screenwriter James Vanderbilt attempts to give each suspect some semblance of a motive. But he and director Jeremy Garelick (replacing Kyle Newacheck) spend so little time on developing their characters (and even less on their story) that it’s impossible to invest much into any supposed mystery. Things only get worse when Nick and Audrey jaunt off to Paris, working with SAS Agent Miller (Mark Strong in a thankless role) to lure out the kidnappers.

After inundating us with lazy gags, lame stereotypes, and unoriginal plot turns, everything culminates in a hopelessly silly action sequence at the Eiffel Tower where the very few pieces of the mystery come together in the most unimaginative way possible. And if that wasn’t enough, the movie ultimately ends with a shamelessly cheap cliffhanger that turns out to be a fitting nail in the coffin of this paper-thin and woefully unfunny whodunnit. “Murder Mystery 2” premieres today on Netflix.


6 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Murder Mystery 2” (2023)

  1. I’m sure it’s not as bad as some of his other films like… Jack & Jill though I’m definitely sure it is way better than Just Go with It as that was just horrendous. I’m taking it easy these days on Adam Sandler right now as he at least does this for a paycheck in the hopes he can use the money to fund projects that he wants to do that is challenging at least. I’m more baffled into why Melanie Laurent did 6 Underground for Michael Bay than doing this.

  2. Sounds like gone off popcorn. And speaking of Netflix’s weird way of deciding what’s successful, the above mentioned Underground 6 was supposed to be the first in a franchise, but they cancelled the sequel as the movie wasn’t ‘popular’ enough. This in spite of having the most ever views in the space of a month and since then a gazillion more. Go figure.

  3. I knew it! Even as I told my wife about it I knew I’d regret it. The good news is your review has prepared me. Now I know to schedule watching it with her when I have something else to do (like read reviews). Maybe you’d be so kind as to post one if I send out a flare when we sit down to watch it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s