“Murder Mystery” is about what you would expect from a straight-to-Netflix summer comedy—and maybe even a little better. It’s “Murder On The Orient Express” reimagined with “Middle Class Fancy” humor and a yacht.
All the benefits of borrowing heavily from “Murder On The Orient Express” are reaped, including exotic scenery and a compelling set-up. Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston are fun as Nick and Audrey Spitz, a middle-class, middle-aged couple struggling to recapture their spark, thrust suddenly into a spectacular whodunnit overseas.
The supporting cast is a fun ensemble, with Adeel Akhtar and Luis Gerardo Méndez adding to the entertainment in particular as a fratty maharajah and a clueless Formula One racer. At 97 minutes, the movie doesn’t drag, which seems to be an increasingly rare feat these days.
Sandler’s everyman schtick is refreshing too. His faltering cop is charming, if a little close to the Bumbling Dad trope (although the Spitzes don’t seem to have children), and Aniston’s hairdresser has her day in a rewarding turn-of-events. Together, they enjoy an easy rapport that keeps things moving and keeps things light.
🚨ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER ANISTON BREAKING NEWS ALERT🚨
30,869,863 accounts watched Murder Mystery in its first 3 days – the biggest opening weekend ever for a Netflix Film. 13,374,914 accounts in the US and Canada, and 17,494,949 more worldwide.
— Netflix Is A Joke (@NetflixIsAJoke) June 18, 2019
Netflix claimed on Tuesday that a staggering 31 million accounts watched the movie in its first three days on the platform, making it “the biggest opening weekend ever for a Netflix Film.” The company’s self-reporting is always controversial. Those numbers are hardly apples to apples with ticket sales, and their veracity is ultimately known only to Netflix. (We desperately need a better way to understand streaming viewership.) But the movie’s appeal shouldn’t be all that baffling.
“Murder Mystery” won’t end up in the rom-com hall of fame, nor should it. The plot isn’t the smoothest, the ending gets a little out of control, and the characters are silly. Not all the jokes land.
But the laughs come steadily, the chase scenes are exciting enough, and like much of Sandler’s fare, the movie has a decent heart, not too heavy-handed, but just light enough to complement the comedy. (If you don’t like Sandler, don’t watch.) Given Netflix’s similar efforts, I was fully prepared for a boring cringe-fest. This wasn’t that.
If you’re looking for breezy summer fare, you could do much worse than “Murder Mystery.” Keep your expectations in check and it might even surprise you.