Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s first collaboration, the woeful romantic comedy “Just Go With It,” landed flat in 2011. Now they are back with the sluggish “Murder Mystery,” which does not even clear that low bar.
Anybody who has seen “Funny People,” “Punch-Drunk Love” or “The Good Girl” — or early seasons of “Friends,” for that matter — knows that Sandler and Aniston have it in them to be fine performers. Yet for whatever reason, their filmography is overloaded with trifles like this innocuous Netflix caper.
The stars play Nick and Audrey Spitz, a New York City couple of big hearts but modest means: He is an underachieving cop, she is a down-to-earth hairdresser.
On the flight to their belated European honeymoon, the Spitzes meet the debonair viscount Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans), who, for no good reason, invites them to cruise the Mediterranean on the luxurious yacht of his billionaire uncle.
At least Terence Stamp, as said uncle, does not have to endure much of the film because his character almost immediately is murdered.
The suspect is among the boat’s guests, a rogue’s gallery that feels like an expansion set of the game “Clue”: a vapid starlet (Gemma Arterton), a funky maharajah (Adeel Akhtar), a hunky Formula 1 champion (Luis Gerardo Mendéz), a one-eyed colonel (John Kani), a hulking bodyguard (Olafur Darri Olafsson) and the dead man’s much younger fiancée (Shioli Kutsuna).
Nick and Audrey must turn sleuths in order to clear themselves from the accusations of a chain-smoking French detective portrayed by the French comedian Dany Boon. (The international cast conveniently represents quite a few of Netflix’s major markets.) Their investigation takes our couple from Monaco to Lake Como, picturesque settings that the director Kyle Newacheck somehow manages to make look like bland Disney World versions of themselves.
At its best, which is fleeting, “Murder Mystery” evokes an unholy mix of Agatha Christie and “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” with an aspirational dash of the 1963 Stanley Donen romantic actioner, “Charade.” Aniston and Sandler have a goofy, relaxed rapport that is often amusing despite the film’s best efforts to smother any sign of verve. One day, perhaps, someone will figure out how to mine the juxtaposition of their differing personas and comic styles.
PG-13 for violence, bloody images, crude sexual content and language. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes.
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