Focusing on the
individual within the relationship, Netflix’s new comedy delivers not only a
welcome progression of diversity on screen but exists as another ripple in the
path that is the skipping stone of successful Netflix comedies. Featuring
actualised female and male leads that regardless of the complications – owed in
part to their sensical character flaws – nevertheless delight with humour and
authenticity that speaks to the human existence.
Can they navigate the
mysterious waters their relationship finds themselves without compromising who
they represent as individuals? Can they make it work? Can they keep it cute?
I am of course
talking about the delightful Netflix comedy Always
Be My Maybe, which has in the weeks following its release mustered up the
collective ‘awwws’ of the internet and spurred on the 2019 Keanu-sance.
And then there is
Netflix’s other entry in the comedy genre: Murder
Mystery, a film so content with taking the easy road that it seeps through
to its unimaginative title.
Sandler shenanigans (say that 5 times), Murder
Mystery is the latest romp in the Adam Sandler arsenal of Netflix comedies;
a lucrative arrangement for Sandler that allows him to churn out uninspired
material. An evident pastiche on Agatha Christie mystery novels, Murder Mystery begs to question less of
a whodunnit scenario and more of a ‘whydunnit’ on the part of the filmmakers
who are as unengaged with the material as Sandler is with his tepid delivery.
Murder Mystery finds Sandlers mustache-laden Nick Spitz, a police officer who lies
about being a detective to his wife Audrey (Jennifer Aniston), embroiled in the
mystery of a billionaire (Terence Stamp) while on vacation in Europe. A game of
Cluedo then follows as the Spitz’s investigate who is responsible amongst the list
of suspects, many of which are presented by offensive caricatures who, going by
Sandler’s body of work, were likely to be played by him.
Things happen for the
sake of the plot chugging ahead like the Orient Express instead of events being
grounded in any sort of well thought-out screenplay; a surprise considering
scribe James Vanderbilt is responsible for weaving dark, suspenseful mysteries
as evident in 2007 thriller Zodiac.
Admittedly, the mystery element is not as central to the film as the
relationship between Sandler and Aniston, with the mystery functioning as a
ploy to rekindle the romance in their tired marriage (yep). Considering the
script contains no semblance of any form of likeable character (Sandler’s
insecure, crappy husband type renders him irredeemably unpleasant) it makes all
of the Spitz’s interactions irritating, diffusing any instance of humour,
causing any chance of a laugh to fizzle.
(Aniston’s character proclaiming to her husband of fifteen years that she has a
love of reading, which seems surprising to him) is a bloodier mess than the
actual murder scene. Further fuel is added to the frustration flame with Murder Mystery making no effort to
disguise its mimicry in vibe to 2018 dark comedy Game Night – going down to the blue, noir vibe of the plane to the
quick-cut shots that act as transitions.
There is clearly an
audience that find great pleasure in watching Sandler and friends engage in
light-hearted hijinx, and they’ll continue to find his work in their Netflix
But, the biggest
frustration lies with Netflix who will continue to lose ground in its bid to be
as respected as legacy studios are in Hollywood should it continue to double
down on loveless filmmaking – the implications of which will impact important
films like 2018 Oscar favourite Roma
from heightened awareness.
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