Adam Sandler’s ‘Murder Mystery’ is an Unexpectedly Charming Throwback

I like Adam Sandler, he seems like a genuinely nice guy and, when he’s not making movies, he’s very funny. The problem is, when he makes movies… he’s not funny.

It didn’t start out that way… Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are classics and Little Nicky and The Waterboy are… tolerable comedies, but almost everything else he’s done since has been garbage… not even garbage, but tragic garbage. It’s like going to your favorite pizza place and finding rats nibbling on the buffet and half of the arcade games aren’t working. You want the place to be great like you remembered, but it’s more than clear that the glory days are behind them.

Adam Sandler’s glory days are behind him and I hate it… I hate it because I like the guy and I genuinely want him to be funny again. The problem is, he’s got a permanent shtick now where every time he’s in a movie, he says his lines like he’s making fun of the movie he’s in and, increasingly, he sounds bored with what he’s doing, mumbling and speaking in a tempo that reminds me of one of those circus elephants that goes into rhythmic swaying because it is so unstimulated by its environment.

I keep watching his movies, though. Maybe I don’t show up to the theaters anymore for them, but I do watch them hoping to see him succeed once again. The Netflix movies have been pitiful so it takes a little haranguing to get me to watch one and with Murder Mystery, it was the positive word of mouth I was hearing.

And you know? It’s not bad. Granted, it’s not great or a breakthrough role, but it is charming in Adam Sandler’s own way. Sure, he still looks and sounds bored in his own movie, but at least he’s sharing the screen with Jennifer Aniston who injects some much needed energy into the movie and into Sandler himself.

Murder Mystery wisely steers away from gross out gags or jokes involving racial stereotypes that have unfortunately become staples in Sandler movies, but rather goes for being a throwback to classic murder mystery movies. I wouldn’t exactly call this a family friendly film, but it’s surprisingly tame for Adam Sandler and it’s kind of refreshing to see him become a little more reserved.

If anything, I would say that this is a sleepier version of Clue or Murder on the Orient Express. It could have been funnier or more energetic, but it gets points for the chemistry and charm of Sandler and Aniston and the simplicity of its plot, uncomplicated and without pop culture references or unneeded gross out gags. It lacks any deep introspection or clues that could lead sharp-eyed viewers to determine who the killer is, instead just presenting it at the end saying, “Yep, this person did it!” which is also a little disappointing, but as a spoof of classic murder mysteries, Murder Mystery is a more than serviceable way to spend an evening.

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