Film Review – Murder Mystery (2019)
Despite its availability on Netflix and a star-studded cast — including Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton and Luke Evans — none of my distinguished MovieBabble colleagues wanted to review Murder Mystery.
And who can blame them? It’s an Adam Sandler “comedy”!
When it comes to watching an Adam Sandler movie, the chance of it being any good is like playing Russian Roulette — but instead of one bullet in the chamber, the whole chamber excluding one is filled with bullets. You might get lucky now and then watch a good one but it’s more than likely you’ll end up shooting yourself in the face.
Occasionally Sandler gets off his rear end and stars in something noteworthy, like Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories. I also have to acknowledge that his Netflix Comedy Special was surprisingly funny. But besides that, all of his Netflix efforts have been cinematic abominations. Verging on its such incredulous unpleasantness that it makes you question what in the hell you’re doing with your life.
In preparation I stacked my fridge with beers, hoping that it could induce me to laugh at the cheap jokes that this feature was surely filled with.
Without exaggeration, this turned out not only to be one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a while. Not only that, but it’s also guilty of the most agonizing 90 minutes of my life this year.
So yeah, the beer didn’t help…
The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Kyle Newacheck
Written By: James Vanderbilt
Nick Spitz (Adam Sandler) is a New York beat-cop who failed the detective exam once again. He hides this fact from his wife, Audrey (Jennifer Aniston), as a lame set-up for the film’s inevitably forced third act. As a gift for the 15th year anniversary, Nick finally grants his wife the promised trip to Europe.
On the plane, Audrey acquaints herself with the dashing millionaire, Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans). Charles invites the couple to a family get-together in his luxurious yacht in Málaga — this is so the movie-studio can pay for Adam Sandler’s vacation.
On this yacht they meet numerous family members of the Cavendish family and friends — all of them are painfully unfunny. When the family patriarch, Malcolm Quince (poor Terence Stamp), finally arrives at the ship, he announces that he won’t grant his billion-dollar inheritance to any of his family members but to his wife Suzi (Shioli Kutsuna).
Soon enough the lights go out and Malcolm is found stabbed to death. Anyone of them can be considered a suspect naturally, but since the Spitz couple is the odd-one-out, chain-smoking detective Laurence da la Croix (Dany Boon) considers them the most likely suspects.
Soon the Spitzes are on the run from bullets and mayhem as an unseen assassin tries to take them out and frame them for murder.
A Wasted Concept
If you’re decently familiar with my writing on this site, you know that I like to write an elaborate synopsis. To tell you the truth, I didn’t bother with this one because, well, it wasn’t worth it. It’s obvious that the screenwriter didn’t put much thought into the story either. He just delivered a thinly written, three-act structure comedy and let the filmmakers figure the rest out.
The least this film could deliver, judging by its concept, was an intriguing whodunnit mystery. In order for that the work, the characters need to be either likable or interesting, which is absolutely not the case. In fact, they can barely be called characters. Even calling them caricatures is too much praise.
No interesting hints are given about who can be the perpetrator so it can be anyone, so why should the viewer care?
A common occurrence in this film is that a character suddenly appears before the main characters and is about to unveil some important revelation. Before they can do this, they are unceremoniously dispatched so that the two main characters can have another “amusing” chase.
Naturally, the two main characters are barely affected by the murderous mayhem and continue quibbling amongst each other about their relationship troubles. I understand it’s a comedy, but some semblance of humanity in the characters would have gone a long way.
The actors are all fine but have nothing to work with and to be frank, none of them really seem to care. Luke Evans just needs to be charming and dashing and he does his job; Gemma Arterton needs to look beautiful and be a potential femme fatale and does her job; Terence Stamp just needs to be an ass before he’s murdered, and so on. Everybody is just anxious to quickly finish their scenes so they can then enjoy their free vacation.
If you want to see a good film, using a similar concept — or a film that’s actually funny — go watch Murder by Death instead.
All the Hallmarks of a Bad Adam Sandler Film
Murder Mystery has all the hallmarks of a bad Adam Sandler film, with the added bonus of Sandler caring even less about the finished product.
First of all, we have Adam Sandler being a reliable product-placement solicitor — this movie seems particularly eager in promoting the Amazon gift card. Then we have the exotic locations which Sandler clearly picked so he can have a free holiday for himself and friends. This can be seen in his other “masterpieces”, such as Blended, Grown-Ups, Grown-Ups 2 (because a sequel was really necessary) and Just Go With It— which also wasted the charms of Jennifer Aniston.
The humor here is low-brow but maybe a little more restrained than his other efforts. It’s also filled with “hilarious” stereotypes. One of the “funniest” characters is this Indian fellow who talks in rap-movie slang, which is certainly not outdated at all.
Surprisingly, the film does not have many of the usual Happy Madison alumni, though I might have missed them. I didn’t see the great Deuce Bigalow, Rob Schneider, enact some horribly offensive ethnic stereotype this time.
The film features a lot of jokes about how “tired” Sandler’s character is, which almost appears to be a meta-commentary on how the real Sandler is tired of actually working for his money and just wants to hang out and enjoy his vacations.
As per usual, Sandler’s wardrobe is a comfortable looking T-shirt and short/three-quarter cargo pants. Though in one scene, he did wear a tuxedo. I’m sure they had to pay him extra for the effort.
The sad thing is that everyone can do better, especially Sandler. He has shown himself to be a more than capable dramatic and comedic performer. But he just doesn’t seem to care. And since his films still make a lot of money, his fans don’t seem to care.
I actually feel bad for watching this movie on Netflix, so I inadvertently contributed to the popularity too.
Is it worse than Jack and Jill, the gold standard of Adam Sandler films? Perhaps not, though I couldn’t finish that movie because the longer I kept watching it, the more I felt I was on the verge of a stroke. Nonetheless, Murder Mystery is your quintessential bad Adam Sandler comedy. A merciless assault on the art of cinema and comedy in general.
It’s an uninspired mess from beginning to end. Every talent involved has been wasted. They are all going through the motions, giving the bare minimum.
Occasionally, Sandler feels guilty and realizes the damage he’s doing his viewers and commits to something worthwhile. But eventually, he realizes he cares less about art than about going on vacation. Many might say they can’t blame them, and if he had just put some effort into the product, I might not be so harsh on him.
I don’t say this often but I absolutely loathe this movie. I don’t think I can watch Adam Sandler movies for quite a while. I’m not even sure he should be forgiven.
It’s stupid, lazy and soulless. The whole experience becomes borderline offensive, as we see these Hollywood elites hanging out in exotic countries, flaunting their wealth in fancy hotels and yachts, in the guise of making a “comedy.”
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