Netflix review: Sandler's 'Murder Mystery' adds comic twist to Agatha Christie setup

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jun 18 2019 06:53 PM

Adam Sandler is back with a new comedy film but this time it's on Netflix. His last films on the big screen were "Grown-Ups 2," "Blended" and "The Cobbler" were all unmemorable critical messes. Only his "Hotel Transylvania" films are doing any kind of good business at the box office. Electing to screen his next Happy Madison film on Netflix may actually be a stroke of genius on Sandler's part for a bigger audience reach. 

New York police officer Nick Spitz (Sandler) took his hairdresser wife Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) to Europe to spend their 15th wedding anniversary. On the plane, Audrey met the elegant Lord Charles Cavendish, who invited the Spitzes to join him at a family party on their yacht. The American couple stood out like sore thumbs among the colorful rich and famous characters on the yacht. 

Billionaire Malcolm Quince (Terence Stamp) was about to sign a will turning over all his money to his new wife, Suzi (Shiori Kutsuna). Aside from Cavendish (Luke Evans), the other guests on the yacht include a famed actress (Gemma Arterton), a race car driver (Luis Gerardo Mendez), a playboy maharajah (Adeel Akhtar), a sinister colonel (John Kani) and his bodyguard (Olafur Darri Olafsson) and Quince's only son Tobey (David Walliams). 

Suddenly, a murder was committed on board, and the lead French policeman Laurent Delacroix (Dany Boon) tagged Nick and Audrey as the primary suspects!

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Sandler was his default movie persona here -- an annoying smart-aleck loser type guy -- like how he played them in practically all his recent comedies. He felt like he was sleepwalking through this project with very little energy in his performance, just going on autopilot for the most part. However, having said that, I cannot say he was not at all funny. He had his moments, but just felt it could have been a smarter sort of funny, rather than just a shallow sort of funny. 

Aniston had been with Sandler before in "Just Go With It" (2011), where they also play a couple who go on a trip (to Hawaii). Aniston competing in a hula contest with her rival Nicole Kidman were the only funny scenes I actually remember from that film. Here, I also liked Aniston's character Audrey as a bored wife who was an avid reader of mystery novels. She was very excited to be in the middle of a real murder investigation, pitting her own wits against the murderer with hilarious results. 

This film brought back a lot of nostalgia from Agatha Christie mystery thriller films like "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974) and "Death on the Nile" (1978), and similar films like "The Last of Shiela" (1973). In these films, a murder happens on a confined setting and the murder is among a finite number of suspects. 

I loved those films and that was why, despite Sandler's lazy acting, I still enjoyed watching this silly feature quite a bit, figuring clues out along the way and guess the killer, which I always found fun to do.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."