Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston reunite to play a married couple caught up in a… well, you read the title.
Nick Spitz (Adam Sandler) is a police sergeant who has aspirations of being a detective but performs poorly under test conditions. His wife, Audrey (Jennifer Aniston), is a hairdresser who loves murder mystery novels. He forgets to do anything really romantic for their 15th wedding anniversary, so he quickly books the trip to Europe that he promised for their honeymoon. On the flight over, Audrey meets Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans), a billionaire who invites the couple onto the yacht of his uncle Malcolm Quince (Terence “Kneel Before” Stamp) for a party. The boat is filled with a menagerie of archetypal murder mystery characters from Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen and, of course, someone gets murdered. Nick and Audrey quickly become the prime suspects and have to figure out who is killing off the cast before they become the next victims.
Okay, so, most critics have pretty much been using Adam Sandler’s recent Netflix films as punching bags and, I’m gonna be honest, they’re pretty damned bad. The Ridiculous Six has like one joke in it and the rest of the film killed my soul. The Do-Over was an awkward buddy comedy that made me miss Chris Farley. Sandy Wexler at least had the feeling that Sandler was kind of invested in it, which apparently is because the main character was based on Sandler’s manager and friend Sandy Wernick, but it was boring as f*ck. The Week Of at least had some fun performances, but was so lazily written that I honestly felt like they stabled 3 old movie scripts together to make it. So, aside from Adam Sandler 100% Fresh, which is one of the funniest stand-up specials on Netflix and you should watch it, pretty much all of these films were either epically bad or just forgettable. This one almost actually works.
Yes, it’s a cliche film set-up, but it’s intentionally cliched. The characters are all such exaggerated archetypes that it actually becomes kind of fun to watch how the two main characters, who are fairly normal, comment on the absurdity of their interactions. The murders are ridiculous, bordering on parodic, which, again, kind of works. The old-school Clue-esque trope of using different methods for each killing always adds a level of amusement to me. Sandler and Aniston do have some nice chemistry when they’re portraying a bickering couple that still care for each other and most of what they do in this film is bicker. There are some decent homages to other, better, films, and honestly some of the scenes are pretty clever, particularly when they just flat-out avert the expected movie tropes.
But, then there are the problems. First, the subplot of Nick and Audrey being suspects in the murders drove me insane. The film tries to have the incompetent detective following the murders justify why he suspects them, but it really just never makes sense for him to pick them over a room full of extremely motivated people who ACTUALLY COULD HAVE DONE IT. They do it to isolate the characters and add more stakes, but it’s a comedy so that’s not necessary. Second, there are a lot of wasted moments on scenes that don’t add to the plot and also just aren’t that funny and a few subplots that are just for the sake of following some sort of screenwriting rules (the couple breaks up briefly and then gets back together in the next scene, making it moot). Third, it follows Adam Sandler’s tendency lately to play characters that are somehow supercompetent and also failures, like in Pixels, where he plays a TV repairman who manages to talk down to the Joint Chiefs because he’s good at video games. Did I actually see Pixels? No, but people talked about that scene and it’s an appropriate example. I think this stems from him playing Happy Gilmore and Bobby “the Waterboy” Boucher and deciding those were the only way to play heroic characters.
Overall, I will say this movie isn’t terrible, but I would watch a lot of things before touching it if I didn’t write this blog. Still, it has some fun moments. I will say, if you want a much better version of this same idea, watch The Private Eyes with Tim Conway and Don Knotts or Murder By Death starring Peter Sellers and Maggie Smith and Truman Capote and Peter Falk and Alec Guiness and holy hell that movie had a lot of great actors in it. Yeah, watch those instead.
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