Netflix has cornered the market on throwaway, lightweight original comedy films, something the company wears with pride like a shiny gold badge. Their multi-production deal with Adam Sandler has resulted in “Murder Mystery,” a mildly amusing whodunit that’s just as irrelevant as those that have come before. It’s more like an awful television show (or an extended Claritin commercial) than a direct-to-streaming feature film.
New York City cop Nick Spitz (Adam Sandler) finally takes his hairdresser wife Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) on a long-promised European honeymoon. Nick makes the cheapest arrangements possible, including a crowded bus tour through Spain and cramped seats in coach. On the flight, Audrey meets rich playboy Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans) and the blue collar couple get invited to a family gathering on the yacht of a famous billionaire (Terence Stamp).
A new will is being signed so there’s an eclectic group of friends and family on board, including an estranged girlfriend (Shioli Kutsuna), a Maharaja (Adeel Akhtar), a Nigerian Colonel (John Kani), a race car driver (Luis Gerardo Méndez), and a famous, scandal-prone actress (Gemma Arterton). When the patriarch is murdered for his money, Nick and Audrey become the prime suspects (never mind they’re on a boat filled with people who have much to gain financially from a massive inheritance) and must beat the clock to solve the crime.
It’s silly when appropriate and serious when it needs to be, but there’s really not much of a mystery. The film can’t shake a general hand-me-down atmosphere and although competently made, the project is mostly just goes through the motions. You’ll be fooled into thinking this is better than it actually is at first, simply because you’ll want it to be. There are a couple of good laughs early on before the film turns into an uninspired bore.
Aniston and Sandler work well together as a comedy team, but even their pairing can’t save the derivative script. When there’s something revealed that gets your hopes up that the story will take an inspired direction, like the fact that Audrey is an avid fan of mystery novels, it’s totally squandered and never pays off in the end. That type of writing feels apathetic and makes for a mediocre movie.