Review: Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler win again with snappy ‘Murder Mystery 2’

Kuhoo Verma, from left, Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler and Mélanie Laurent in the movie "Murder Mystery 2."
(Scott Yamano/Netflix)

During Adam Sandler’s nearly decadelong association with Netflix, he’s produced and starred in an eclectic batch of movies, from the broadest of comedies to critically acclaimed art films. But one of his biggest hits to date (at least according to Netflix’s opaque metrics) has been 2019’s “Murder Mystery,” a breezy international caper picture with Sandler and Jennifer Aniston playing Nick and Audrey Spitz, two in-over-their-heads New Yorkers forced by circumstance to become amateur detectives as they dodge a killer and the cops in glamorous European locales.

On paper, the movie sounds like something an algorithm would kick out. Two of the ’90s biggest TV and movie stars solving crimes in pretty places? What could be more tailor-made for all those middle-aged folks who pay the household streaming bills? But “Murder Mystery” — and now “Murder Mystery 2” — are better than they need to be. Both films sport an attractive polish and a snappy pace; and in both, Aniston and Sandler display a charming comic chemistry as they swap rapid-fire patter in front of their fabulous supporting casts.

At the start of “Murder Mystery 2,” the Spitzes are struggling with both their new private eye business and their marriage, so they jump at an invite from the first film’s Maharajah Vikram (Adeel Akhtar) to attend his wedding on a private island. When the maharajah gets kidnapped and Nick and Audrey get blamed, the couple find themselves in Paris trying to figure out which member of the wedding party (played by Mélanie Laurent, Jodie Turner-Smith and Kuhoo Verma, among others) is the real culprit. They also cross paths again with the world-weary Inspector de la Croix (Dany Boon) and meet a new lawman, a former MI6 agent named Connor Miller (Mark Strong).


“Murder Mystery 2” is a slight step down from its predecessor, mainly because it lacks the element of surprise. At times it feels as if Aniston, Sandler and the returning screenwriter James Vanderbilt are running down a checklist of the shtick that worked last time: Nick’s compulsive snacking, his thwarted desire to drive a fancy sports car, his inability to shoot straight, et cetera. Even the pileup of last-act twists is, in a way, predictable.

But the new director Jeremy Garelick doesn’t squander his resources. Just like “Murder Mystery,” the sequel runs a tight 90 minutes (and feels even a bit tighter because Garelick and Vanderbilt don’t have to futz around with a lot of setup), and it has been shot in and around real, eye-catching locations like the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. The filmmakers also have some fun toying with the Agatha Christie formula, combining it with “Taken”-style kidnapping thrillers and — in one funny scene — a parody of a classic romantic comedy that shall remain nameless to preserve the surprise.

The primary assets here though are Aniston and Sandler, who are totally present in every scene, playing off each other like old comedy pros and coming up with little bits of improvisatory business that make Nick and Audrey feel like a real and loving married couple.

Again, millions of Netflix subscribers would probably watch this movie even if it were merely mediocre. But the cast and crew don’t coast on that. They’re invested in making the crazy world surrounding the Spitzes a place people won’t just pop into on a whim but will actually want to revisit.

'Murder Mystery 2'

Rated: PG-13, for violence, bloody images, strong language, suggestive material and smoking
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Available on Netflix