Perhaps the biggest saving grace about “Murder Mystery,” the latest movie partnership between Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions and Netflix, is that no one will have to pay money to sit in a movie theater to endure 100-plus minutes of subpar cinema.
It isn’t just that the production design is simplified to a level that almost none of the crime comedy’s supposedly luxurious foreign locales look authentic or that the jokes are so incredibly on the nose.
Watching “Murder Mystery” in one sitting is a chore to endure and certainly one you wouldn’t want to have to sit through in public. Yet somehow, it still isn’t the worst film to be released in 2019.
This wannabe romp finds Sandler reteamed with his “Just Go With It” co-star Jennifer Aniston as a lower middle-class New York married couple en route to the cheapest possible European vacation when they get swept up into a rich playboy’s world of drama, intrigue and “dun dun dun” murder.
The film’s title should be a warning sign to potential audiences of what’s to come as it isn’t called “Murder Mystery” in a fun, satirical way, but rather as if screenwriter James Vanderbilt left it in an early draft of the script instead of “insert movie title here” and forgot to come back and think of an actual title for the movie.
Little more can be expected of a comedy penned by the writer of such hits as “Independence Day: Resurgence,” the two “Amazing Spider-Man” films and stunningly enough, “Zodiac,” David Fincher’s cult crime classic.
Shockingly, “Murder Mystery” shows marked improvement relative to other Happy Madison-Netflix joint ventures as this Sandler misfire is decidedly better than the unwatchable western spoof “The Ridiculous 6” or the similarly bland action adventure “The Do-Over.” Having low expectations going into “Murder Mystery” certainly helps.
One might expect A-list talent like Aniston and Sandler to elevate the material more than they do here with the end result being a star-studded version of a Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen TV mystery movie.
“Murder Mystery” is a film that will make one yearn for the good old days of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” when badly written crime caper comedies has the common sense to hire Kevin James instead of acting talent that could actually be put to good use.
If this is the kind of inane, laugh-every-five-minute feature Sandler has to put out on streaming services to allow him to take chances on dramatic work in films like “Punch Drunk Love” and “The Meyerowitz Stories,” so be it.
It’d just be nice if the world’s top streaming service would pony up a few extra dollars for better screenwriters.