Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston Get By On Charm

The saving grace of “Murder Mystery 2” is that Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler have a renewed sense of charm, bouncing agreeably off each other as a married couple struggling to revive the unique magic they found in their first adventure. The plot details regarding who their characters actually are in the real world — she’s an ex-hairdresser, and he’s an ex-cop, which you surely remember well — are largely beside the point. The basic idea of Aniston and Sandler having a mildly henpecked union, having high-volume arguments that are partially shrugged off as just being how New Yorkers talk, comes to life with their chemistry. Though their banter is far from Nick and Nora Charles in “The Thin Man,” there are enough good chuckles between how Aniston and Sandler play off each other to make the shouting tolerable. (There is quite a lot of it.)

The mystery itself almost seems superfluous. Aside from Akhtar and fellow returning cast member John Kani, there’s a slew of potential suspects from a famed ex-soccer player with a long line of paramours (Enrique Arce) to a spurned ex (Jodie Turner-Smith) and even a shrewd fellow negotiator played by Mark Strong who seems superhumanly capable of showing Nick up and proving his worth to Audrey. Yet for as much head-scratching is done regarding who may or may not have killed and kidnaped whom, the eventual reveal manages to both feel pretty obvious (at least in terms of which cast member or cast members may be involved) and not terribly interested in being super-logical. 

But again, it is hard to imagine watching a movie like “Murder Mystery 2” with the same eagle eye that you may bring to the stories of Benoit Blanc. Vanderbilt — whose career includes not just the first “Murder Mystery” but also the brilliant David Fincher film “Zodiac” — recently co-wrote “Scream VI,” another film with a mystery at its core that doesn’t make a great deal of sense if you stop and think about it for more than a few seconds. Here, at least, the reasons why the murder is less compelling are because so many Happy Madison productions are laid-back and breezy. And “Murder Mystery 2” very much is both of those things, rarely rising above the comic level of chuckle-worthy. (The exception is a cameo from Jillian Bell, which is both very clever and delightfully unexpected.) “Murder Mystery 2” fits in well with the typical Netflix offerings: it’s the type of film that you could mentally check out of for a few minutes without missing a great deal, and it’s over before you know it. Like its predecessor and so many other Netflix films, “Murder Mystery 2” is fine and perfectly content with being just that.

/Film Rating: 6 out of 10

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