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The Adam Sandler Murder Mystery Movies Aren't THAT Bad

By Sara Clements | Film | March 31, 2023 |

By Sara Clements | Film | March 31, 2023 |


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Looking back at the reviews of 2019’s Murder Mystery, they’re terrible. But you couldn’t expect a comedy whodunnit starring Adam Sandler to reach Agatha Christie-level excellence. It probably wasn’t even trying to. After watching it for the first time recently, I placed it on a list of films titled, “Okay, it wasn’t that bad.” (Yes, I am contradicting Pajiba’s own review!) It’s a fun time. The same can be said for its sequel, Murder Mystery 2. With a new director at the helm in Jeremy Garelick, it’s the typical “Spitz vacation insanity,” as Jennifer Aniston’s Audrey Spitz would put it. But it goes bigger and better in many areas, which is all you could ask for.

The last time we saw Nick (Adam Sandler) and Audrey Spitz they were off on the fabled Orient Express. Perhaps it was a bit of foreshadowing about their continued entanglement with crime-solving. Here we are with a sequel, one that sees the Spitzs as private detectives. Turning their sleuthing bug into a business, they’re trying to learn the ropes and read all the books to get officially licensed. However, their new venture isn’t going well. The combination of work and marriage is causing its share of complications, while mistakes in cases make their previous success now seem like a fluke. They’re waiting for a big career-making case to put their new agency on the map.

The Spitz’s last vacation didn’t go as planned. Five people were murdered and the couple saw themselves on the news as wanted suspects. So, when Maharaja Vikram (Adeel Akhtar) returns to the picture, inviting them on an all-expenses-paid getaway to his wedding, they’re hesitant to accept. And turns out, they had reason because the case that would become their big break is another vacation ruiner: Vikram’s kidnapping.

The suspects this time are made up of characters both old and new: Vikram’s Parisian shopgirl bride Claudette (Mélanie Laurent); the haughty Countess (Jodie Turner-Smith) with her snotty retorts and killer fashion; relatable people-hating Saira (Kuhoo Verma), sister of the groom; Francisco (Enrique Arce), an ex-football star turned chairman of the board at Vikram’s company; Colonel Ulenga (John Kani), making a return from the previous film but with one less arm. Inspector Delacroix (Dany Boon) also returns, but now working more alongside the Spitzs than acting as an adversary. The new adversary baton is handed to Miller (Mark Strong), an MI6 agent on the investigation. He’s another lawman who dismisses the Spitzs’s skills, motivating the couple to solve this case on their own and prove to everyone, and also themselves, that they really can make a career out of this.

Murder Mystery 2, just like its predecessor, has an emanating charm thanks to the chemistry and comedic timing of its two leads. Nick and Audrey are a hot mess with bickering in abundance, but having them be so unabashedly flawed makes them the most relatable movie detectives. Splash in some entertaining supporting characters and you have a genuinely fun time. Sure, the film is littered with dumb jokes but it does produce some good laughs, too, especially when the physical comedy kicks into high gear as the couple causes absolute chaos on the streets of Paris. However, the first film excels much more strongly in the comedy department. James Vanderbilt’s writing in this regard has taken a back seat to bigger set pieces and some well-executed action.

Murder Mystery 2 isn’t a perfect sequel. It excels on new fronts while scaling back on others; a whiplash of excitement and disappointment. But this series was never meant to carry the same level of complexity in its script as Knives Out, for example, but it does find a new level of strength in the writing of its mystery this time around. It’s quite obvious from the get-go who is the most suspicious in the first film, but here the audience is just as confused as the Spitzses. Following their string of theories is much more exciting, and the reveal is more surprising. The film turns out to be more than you could have expected from a Murder Mystery sequel.