Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) and Nick (Adam Sandler) try to hand off ransom money in Paris. Photo courtesy of Netflix
LOS ANGELES, March 31 (UPI) -- Murder Mystery is now Adam Sandler's funniest franchise since he never revisited Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore or the Zohan. Murder Mystery 2, in theaters now and on Netflix Friday, keeps the fun going in another zany mystery.
After solving a murder in Italy, Nick (Sandler) and Audrey Spitz (Jennifer Aniston) have tried to start a private investigation business. It's not going well, so they accept Maharajah Vic's (Adeel Akhtar) wedding invitation for a weekend getaway at a Caribbean island.
As the title promises, there is a murder at Vic's wedding to Claudette (Melanie Laurent) and Vic is kidnapped. So, Nick and Audrey are on the case again, making lowbrow but undeniably funny jokes while death and destruction surrounds them.
As Netflix mystery franchises go, Murder Mystery is sort of the anti-Glass Onion. It's not sophisticated and that's the film's greatest weapon. Nick and Audrey meet high stakes murder with buffoonery and immature jokes.
Most of those jokes work because there is something primal about blatant private part jokes. If any of those jokes cross the line, they come rapidly enough that the next one is bound to hit.
Nick and Audrey deconstruct the tropes of mysteries not because they are genius crime solvers, but because they have common sense. When outrageous things happen to them, they're shocked and indignant, because it's not their forte.
The mystery itself moves briskly, introducing suspects and motives and escalating the conspiracy. At first glance, the clues and revelations appear to check out, so James Vanderbilt's script still hangs those puerile jokes on a real, logical mystery.
Some characters from the first Murder Mystery return, like Vic, Colonel Ulenga (John Kani) and inspector Delacroix (Dany Boon). New characters make prime suspects including Claudette, Vic's ex, the Countess Sekou (Jodie Turner Smith), board member Francisco (Enrique Arce) and Vic's sister Saira (Kuhoo Verma).
International detective Miller (Mark Strong) arrives to help recover Vic. Strong has the presence to play a real action hero. He's great in comedies but a straight action movie should give him a vehicle too.
Sandler has made a cottage industry of filming ensemble comedies in exotic locations. If the goal is to be as extravagant as can be, Murder Mystery 2's Indian wedding on the island will be a tough act to follow.
Sandler and Aniston dress in Indian attire, participate in a Bollywood dance number, and there's even an elephant. Sandler is not bad at the dance moves, and Aniston plays it awkwardly for comedy.
The kidnappers eventually lure the gang to Paris for a ransom exchange. John Wick: Chapter 4 wins the Paris action set piece contest but Murder Mystery 2 has more French jokes.
Murder Mystery 2 follows the formula of the first movie to equal success. The new caper gives the cast of characters ample opportunity to be silly.
Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012, and Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.