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Netflix’s ‘Murder Mystery 2’ hits entertainment bullseye

Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler return for fast-paced twists, high production value

Many of the shots involved a lot of effort from the crew and set designers which helped the movie succeed in its cinematography.

Courtesy of Netflix
Many of the shots involved a lot of effort from the crew and set designers which helped the movie succeed in its cinematography. Courtesy of Netflix

On March 31, Netflix released “Murder Mystery 2,” a sequel to its popular 2019 comedy. The much-awaited Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler flick skyrocketed to the top of Netflix’s Global English films in the first week of April, also pulling its prequel from Netflix’s graveyard to the second spot in the same category. 

The film is set four years after the first movie. Audrey (Aniston) and Nick Spitz (Sandler), who now operate a private detective agency, find themselves investigating the abduction of their billionaire friend, the Maharajah (Adeel Akhtar), who is set to marry the French model Claudette Joubert (Mélanie Laurent). 

The film’s mystery plot feels secondary to Aniston and Sandler’s spotlight-stealing comedic banter and on-screen chemistry. Audrey and Nick are like perfect puzzle pieces made to fit with each other. The mixture of Audrey’s responsible and organized attitude with Nick’s clumsy and cheese-obsessed demeanor will undoubtedly make audiences crack up. And while some action sequences in the film might seem cringy in theory, Aniston and Sandler’s strong comedic timing helps viewers forget the absurdity of the situations.

But the focus on Aniston and Sandler’s relationship doesn’t entirely make up for the film’s surface-level plot. To keep audiences engaged, the film resorts to constant plot twists, from intense character reveals to out-of-pocket car explosions. But screenwriter James Vanderbilt can take pleasure in the fact that he certainly created an enjoyable movie.

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Because of the film’s fast-paced plot twists, many interesting characters receive little screen time and lack character development. Countess Sekou (Jodie Turner-Smith) was reminiscent of a meaner Blair Waldorf and added a unique dynamic to the mix. Inspector de la Croix (Dany Boon) felt like an archetype of the “Knives Out” franchise. Audiences are likely to want more from both of these characters going forward.

The film also portrays an accurate and fun Indian wedding — though the elephant inside the small wedding tent was a little uncalled for.

The wedding provided costume designer Debra McGuire with an amazing opportunity to highlight Indian designers. The ivory lehenga by Manish Malhotra for Aniston was a perfect choice. In an interview with Vogue India, McGuire said, “I gravitated towards the more traditional, which I felt would be more respectful and fitting to how the scenes were written.” Whether the costumes at the wedding were by Malhotra or Papa Don’t Preach, they showed an understanding of what modern India would wear to a wedding.

And no Indian wedding is complete without Bollywood music. The duo Avinash-Vishwajeet composed “King Dee Wedding” for the film, which was perfectly on trend with current songs in the industry. The film also features songs like “Et moi, et moi, et moi” by Jacques Dutronc and “Bang Bang” by Sheila that perfectly match each scene they are a part of.

The film’s off-camera artists also deserve acknowledgment. Cinematographer Bojan Bazelli perfectly captured the streets of Paris and Production Designer Perry Andelin Blake made most of the film’s frames, including one which featured a replica of the Eiffel Tower, extremely believable. 

Set decorators Niamh Coulter and Jeanette Scott added an eclectic and carefully-selected collection of props to the sets, making them feel more life-like. “The villa (in the film) was built in a convention center,” Scott explained in a message to The Herald. “It was meant to be very luxurious.” 

“Murder Mystery 2” is far from a perfect film, but perfection was never its goal. The movie’s comedy and surprise elements account for a film that is ideal to watch on a Friday night to unwind after a stressful week. Now audiences must simply wait to see if Netflix decides to add a third installment to the franchise, though it would certainly be fun to see Aniston and Sandler share screen space one last time. 

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