By Leah Greenblatt
June 17, 2019 at 11:16 AM EDT
Credit: Scott Yamano/Netflix

Murder Mystery

  • Movie

A crime caper so fizzy-light it probably couldn’t even stay anchored to a Clue gameboard, Murder Mystery seems to know from the first frame how silly it is, right down to the placeholder name.

That makes it feel more fun than it should be to watch Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler as a working-class New York couple (working-class, of course, except for Aniston’s wardrobe) who find themselves unlikely guests on a tetchy billionaire’s yacht bound for Mediterranean ports and multiple homicides.

As Nick and Audrey Spitz — he’s a beat cop, she’s a hairdresser — they seem mostly happily married, though his idea of a 15th anniversary gift is an Amazon gift card off the rack from Rite Aid; panicked by her disappointment, he pretends that he had planned to take her on their long-delayed European honeymoon all along.

On the plane, Audrey wanders into first class and befriends Luke Evans’ dashing, mustachioed viscount (as you do), who spontaneously invites them to join him (as viscounts apparently do) at the floating nuptials of his estranged uncle, Malcolm Quince — a silver-haired misanthrope who just happens to be one of world’s richest men, and is played, far too briefly, by Terence Stamp.

On the boat, a smorgasbord of soon-to-be-suspects awaits: a swanning succubus of an actress (Gemma Arterton), a one-eyed colonel (John Kani), a race-car driver (Luis Gerardo Méndez), and a chatty Maharaj (Adeel Akhtkar), plus Malcolm’s bitter prodigal son (David Wallaims) and much-younger new bride (Shioli Kutsuna), a Japanese tennis ace named Suzi.

When they all start dropping like manor guests in a dinner-theater Agatha Christie, Audrey and Nick mostly hang back; Audrey is a little bit thrilled that the trip is playing out like one of her favorite novels; Nick would just really like to bring some grilled shrimp back to his stateroom. But soon they’re the prime suspects in the crosshairs of Inspector de la Croix (Dany Boon), the chain-smoking French police detective so Clouseau-y he might as well have a Pink Panther pinned to his lapel.

Aniston and Sandler, paired before in 2011’s Just Go With It, relax into their roles as if their only stake in Mystery is to enjoy the free trip to Italy and have fun running down cobblestones. Sandler, far from his manic man-child mode, throws off dry one-liners like they’re free packets of cocktail sauce, though he’s still the shlub who would wear cargo shorts to his own funeral, and Aniston stays plucky-bright, even when she has to scooch around a corpse or dodge a blowdart.

None of it ever really matters, and even the big reveal of whodunit evaporates like so much morning mist over a villa — or like 100 minutes of zero-gravity Netflixing you can swig down like boxed Prosecco, and never have to think of again. B–

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Murder Mystery

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