Old-fashioned movie star charm lifts a goofy, amiable movie that gives a New York couple in the middle of a European whodunnit

Adam Sandler’s diabolical eight-movie deal with Netflix arrived as both a favor and a expletive for those who had actually weathered any of his last eight self-produced theatrical exhausts. While it allowed most of us to simply pretend he had stopped working( objects for anyone who’s even well understood what Sandy Wexler is ), it also allowed him to continue preparing the same films that even his most impassioned love had stopped buying tickets for. His streaming output has been predictably, punishingly unfunny up until now, and one would safely expect the same from his latest, which reunites him with Jennifer Aniston, who starred with him in 2011′ s execrable romcom Just Go With It.

But while that cinema couldn’t capitalise on its big star pairing, their second attempt, the crudely named Murder Mystery, is a far more satisfying experience, a surprisingly nimble summer comedy that feels both Aniston and Sandler at their most attractiveness. They star as a married couple living a instead staid life in New York: he’s Nick, a policeman pretending he’s a detective while she’s Audrey, his unaware hairdresser wife who yearns for more intrigue. He owes her a European honeymoon and on their 15 th commemoration, he lastly caves and the pair head abroad for a much-needed getaway. But after Audrey befriends a suave playboy( Luke Evans ), they find themselves invited to a comfortable ship party hosted by a billionaire( Terence Stamp) who soon turns up dead, leaving the couple as prime suspects.

Originally slated to starring Charlize Theron with Shakespeare in Love’s John Madden at the helm, Murder Mystery might now be arriving in a far less glamorous package, ushered in by the director of Game Over, Man !, but there’s a propulsive watchability that still attains it slip. It starts on rocky ground with references characterizing themselves in clumsily broad strokings and the dialogue “il rely on” sitcom-level gender stereotypes( in one background a group of women complain about their partners not doing the foods enough) but once the couple’s in the air, things smooth out significantly. The dialogue, from the Zodiac and White House Down screenwriter James Vanderbilt, is zippy and relatively smart-alecky, playing like a fast-paced mix of Game Night and Manhattan Murder Mystery. Aniston’s attribute is haunted with trashy mystery fictions with designations such as RSVP Murder and returns a self-awareness to the Clue-style drama that unfolds around them. Both she and Sandler are comfortably in their wheelhouses but while this has led them both to coast on autopilot in the past, here they’re able to confidently lean into their movie star charm.

Nothing here is a great stretch for either, but that’s sort of the plea and it’s a pleasure to watch two aces well understood what an gathering requires from them without taking such knowledge for conceded. They’re playing up to their quintessential kinds but in a way that never feels phoned in, and there’s a lived-in married couple chemistry that realizes their bickering believably spiky. Unlike in previous Sandler slapsticks, the dialogue is mostly tight and free of showboating opportunities and it’s also less puerile than what we’re used to seeing from him, forbid one ongoing dick joke. He’s easily the best we have realise him in years, outside of his impressive indie work with Noah Baumbach and Paul Thomas Anderson, and it’s also especially pleasing to see Aniston in arguably her first successful comic capacity since 2013′ s We’re the Millers, the years in between littered with unfunny dross.

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