Murder Mystery 2

Release: Friday, March 31, 2023 (Netflix)

👀 Netflix

Written by: James Vanderbilt

Directed by: Jeremy Garelick

Starring: Adam Sandler; Jennifer Aniston; Mark Strong; Mélanie Laurent; Jodie Turner-Smith; John Kani; Adeel Akhtar; Dany Boon

Distributor: Netflix



As far as generic entertainment goes, you could do a lot worse than Murder Mystery 2. As far as movies bearing the Happy Madison banner go, you could do a lot more offensive. Neither of which is a firm recommendation, but considering the wobbly, paper-thin premise that barely justified a one-time outing I am happy to be able to recommend this at all.

With the same lukewarm chemistry as before, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston reprise their roles as Nick and Audrey Spitz, a middle-aged married couple with a side hustle in private eyeing who last time out turned Monte Carlo upside down. Four years later the pair have somehow fallen up and are now full-time detectives, but their problem is they lack business. It’s gotten to the point where it’s affecting their marriage. Nick believes it’s a case of getting better marketing; Audrey’s adamant they get their license (after all, she’s read the Dummies Guide to Detecting cover to cover).

An opportunity to spice things up comes in the form of a wedding invitation to a private island, where their old pal Vikram “The Maharajah” (British actor Adeel Akhtar, returning alongside John Kani as Colonel Ulenga and Dany Boon as Inspector Clouseau Delacroix) is set to marry the wealthy and beautiful Claudette (Mélanie Laurent). But no sooner have Nick and Audrey begun indulging in the fruits of their all-expenses-paid vacation do they find themselves embroiled in another conspiracy — the colorful ceremony concluding with the death of at least one attendee and Vikram being kidnapped and held for $70 million in Paris.

Director Jeremy Garelick provides a couple of goofy sequences depicting our heroes in peril, but as a mystery this is pretty dire. The story (by James Vanderbilt, a writer whose credibility includes David Fincher’s 2007 crime drama Zodiac) lacks any kind of personality or invention, the sequel exchanging a lying husband for a poorly performing one to create some semblance of tension and character depth. Neither the list of suspects nor Mark Strong‘s Connor Miller, a former hostage negotiator for MI6 who turns up to do the job Nick and Audrey should not be doing, are interesting or feel like real people. They’re certainly not characters you want to spend time with beyond these 80 mandated minutes.

While Sandler and Aniston don’t quite fall into that category, they’re not exactly lighting up the screen either as they attempt once again to clear their name while proving their bonafides. Of course, the in-joke all along has been this lack of legitimacy — a couple of amateurs bumbling their way to professional results in a series of events tantamount to a miracle. The actors on their own are likable but as a couple they’re far from convincing, and that’s microcosmic of this franchise-in-the-making.

Though Murder Mystery 2 fails to take its basic concept to any new heights (unless you count the Eiffel Tower) surprisingly little about it truly qualifies as a chore to watch. Then again, just as much about it truly qualifies as worth remembering.

Duped ’em again!

Moral of the Story: These movies aren’t very good but I’d much rather sit through a third round of this kind of harmless wish fulfillment than a second more of Sandler’s desperately unfunny collaborations with the Rob Schneiders and David Spades of Hollywood. 

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 80 mins. 

Quoted: “You’ve done hostage negotiations?”

“I’m married to this lady. Everything’s a negotiation. I got it.”

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Genre Grandeur – The Iron Giant (1999) – Digital Shortbread


I’m a bit late in re-blogging this latest contribution I made to MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur, but hey — better late than never, right? Anyway, click the link to find my take on this month’s GG theme, which was animated/sci-fi/fantasty (non-Disney or Pixar) films. I chose The Iron Giant.


gg may 2015

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Animated Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Non-Disney/PIXAR) Movies, here’s a review of The Iron Giant (1998) by Tom of Digital Shortbread

Thanks again to S.G. Liput of Rhyme and Reason for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Kim of Tranquil Dreams.  We will be reviewing our favorite teenage/high school romance movies. Please get me your submissions by 25th June by sending them to  Try to think out of the box! Great choice Kim!

Let’s see what Tom thought of this movie:


iron g

Number of times seen: at least a dozen


Brief Synopsis: A boy makes friends with an innocent alien giant robot that a paranoid government agent wants to destroy. (IMDb)


My take on it: Hogarth Hughes (voice of Eli Marienthal) is a typical kid growing up in an era where paranoia has been running rampant…

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TBT: Office Space (1999)


Hey guys. . . .what’s happening? Here’s another T.P.S. report for your reading pleasure. As a blogger, I have a fair amount of time to get what I have to say out to you, my loyal and lovely readers. I can slack off whenever I please, bust ass when I feel like really getting stuff done in a timely fashion. There are very few rules and regulations governing my blogging life. Most importantly of all, I have no bosses looking over my shoulder whenever I write something. (If I find a more substantial job soon, that won’t always be the case. But hopefully my future editor will be cool.) I, forever the idealist, want to petition the concept of working for a living, though. Anyone who’s ever had the “joy” of being stuffed into a cubicle for 8 straight hours Monday through Friday can’t deny the inevitable sense of feeling like a slave to their desk/computer after a certain amount of time. I’m not saying I have the boldness to do something like this week’s main character does but I can empathize with how he’s feeling. I honestly don’t know who can’t with this week’s edition of TBT

Today’s food for thought: Office Space


Release: February 19, 1999


A comedy steeped in the doldrums of being a cog in the corporate engine, Mike Judge’s Office Space became a sensation in a hurry. It’s uncanny ability to dramatize the monotony of the work day is pretty much unmatched by any film since, and not only that, its sense of deadpan humor operates on such a high level it’s become one of the most quoted films of all time. It has its feet firmly planted in reality so most of us can relate, yet it also contains scenes that seem to come straight out of a dream we all have had about that time we quit in spectacular and dramatic fashion. All of this blends together to form one of the most satisfying and re-watchable comedies of the ’90s. And yeah, possibly of all time. 

There’s no secret to its success. Judge’s film is so reliant on its criticism of the work place that it almost could be considered a snuff film. However there’s a universal appeal to the despair Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) and his coworkers Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir (Ajay Naidu) experience working as low-level programmers at the soul-sucking entity that is Initech. Filled with an assortment of memorable and quite frankly bizarre characters, the story is one many have always looked towards for comfort in their ironically similar routines as they split their time between work, watching films and making sure they have enough copies of the T.P.S. reports.

Peter is an increasingly dissatisfied and disenchanted employee at the Houston-based company, and finds his everyday life a chore with each and every passing minute. His girlfriend is a self-absorbed prig who makes him regularly visit an occupational hypnotherapist, his boss is none other than a droid named Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole’s most iconic role without question), his friends are far too settled into their dull career choices, and his willpower is equal to that of Milton’s I.Q. — exactly zero. There comes a point, however, when enough is enough for Peter, and following a bizarre incident during his latest visit with his shrink, he’s thrown into a state of complete relaxation and mental clarity.

He stops showing up to work after one too many requests for his presence on the weekend; he refuses to answer Lumbergh’s many, many ensuing house calls and voicemails; he finally gets up the nerve to ask the pretty waitress (Jennifer Aniston) working at a restaurant called Chotchkie’s, located very close to his place of work, to lunch one afternoon. Quite simply, one day he just stops giving a damn. He finds a kind of inner peace that gives the viewer a reason to cheer for this otherwise downtrodden protagonist.

The film seems a little cultish in its unabashed revelations of what’s said behind closed doors — it would seem only the most disillusioned general laborer would truly identify with the sudden change in fortune for Peter Gibbons, but that’s not necessarily true. Office Space is written in such a way that a more general audience who appreciates good comedy can latch on to the themes presented. It’s easy to picture software companies or any job that requires employees to stuff themselves into cubicles all day five days out of the week as being joyless, monotonous environments in which spirits are crushed and only feelings like depression and regret stagnate to unhealthily high degrees. Depending on how disenchanted the viewer is with his or her own work experience the lead characters here will seem more or less like heroes.

But no one can deny that the film is an intelligent and refreshingly simple one dedicated to proving that it’s more important to be satisfied with who you are and what you do than it is about conforming to standards and fitting in. That’s not to say everything that occurs is an example one should take from the film and try to apply in a real-world setting. Pulling a Peter Gibbons would most likely result in immediate termination. Approaching a cute waitress during the middle of lunch rush could lead to a slap in the face. . .or a cold shoulder. Not really. But, also. . .possibly yes. Money laundering is a definite no-no.

It’s less about what these people do than about what their actions represent that has made Judge’s pre-turn of the millennium film a cherished production in the eyes of many. So go on, smash a fax machine if you’re having a particularly shitty day. The greatest thing about Office Space is the usage of such simple objects to represent universal truths and experiences.

Some advice for the Bill Lumberghs of the world: if you ever find yourself contemplating taking shortcuts in your duties as it pertains to the well-being and employment status of your workers; if you snatch away our Swing Line staplers as though you were kidnapping our children; if you ever dare send us another copy of a goddamn T.P.S. report; if you so much as rearrange our desks one more time, consider yourself more than fairly warned. The next day you show up you could find your building burning to the ground.

Damn, it would feel good to be a gangster.


4-0Recommendation: The film is one I’m pretty confident every one has seen at some point. If you haven’t, you have just lost some points with me. 🙂 In all seriousness, if you haven’t checked it out yet, you’ll be glad you did.

Rated: R

Running Time: 90 mins.

Quoted: “What would you say. . . . . . you do here?”

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We’re the Millers


Release: Tuesday, August 6, 2013


And Clark Griswold thought the time he had spent with his family on vacation was difficult. Jason Sudeikis stars alongside Jennifer Aniston in a film that thinks its a family comedy but what it’s more like is a raunchy, ill-parented spoiled brat of a comedy. It may otherwise be viewed as an hour-and-forty-minute-long reason to see Jennifer Aniston strip down and do a dance to convince everyone that she’s a stripper. To each audience persuasion their own.

While that’s a true highlight, We’re the Millers makes leading the domestic life look about as difficult and stressful as performing last-minute neurosurgery during a power outage. That may sound funny, but that’s not what the film is unfortunately. In fact, it’s insanely weird and uncomfortable. Rawson Marshall Thurber, responsible for Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, was tasked to direct this film and also unfortunately this feels nothing like the spirited, “we’re screwed but we’re going to still enjoy the moment anyway” brand of humor that washed over Dodgeball‘s cliched storyline; the direction here feels hesitant, unsure and quite frankly amateurish. There is hardly any excitement going on at all and while there are funny parts, the vast majority of this film is almost painful to watch.

Regard the somewhat interesting premise: David Clark (Sudeikis) gets his pot stolen from him one day and realizes he now owes his guy (Ed Helms) — a wealthy drug dealer who’s quite the prick — a good amount of money that he currently can’t get back to him. Helms’ Brad Gurdlinger offers David an alternative: ‘If you go across the border and tell the guys there’s a pick-up for Pablo Chacon, you and I are all good. It’s just a smidge of weed. Okay, a smidge-and-a-half.’ Naturally, David knows he himself is too sketchy to cross international borders to retrieve “a smidge of any drugs,” so he quickly comes up with a plan to falsify a family and act as if they are on a vacation to Mexico. He recruits a couple residents of his apartment building, including Rose (Aniston) who is a stripper and will be his wife; and a really dorky, awkward kid named Kenny (Will Poulter) as the son. Kenny turns out to be quite hilarious, as a matter of fact.

He also recruits a young girl who seems to be living on the streets at the current moment — a girl named Casey (Emma Roberts), who also thinks Kenny is like, so major dorky. Perfect for a sister. They all fake their way across borders to “smuggle” (not deal) drugs — there’s a difference — and they become mostly successful. The whole thing really is quite a fun gimmick, but the script simply lacks weight and the story comes across as flat as any rodent David could have potentially converted into roadkill along his highly illegal journey.

Still, can’t go on throughout this family affair without mentioning performances. In spite of the weak script, Aniston is pretty damn good here, and is a funny, strong character who is a good match with Sudeikis, surprisingly. Even though the script most of the time didn’t allow any real romance develop between them (even though it tried), you could see it being a decent re-edit of the film that is currently released. If this movie had received some touch-ups, this might have been a very decent movie.

I really just can’t move on beyond how suffocatingly bad the script was. I’m like, so totally over, like, not good writing, gosh. . . .

Sudeikis as David has moments of being funny, but mostly he’s just a jerk and unlikable. The real winner, and a big source of the guffaws in We’re the Millers, is within Kenny’s dorky teenager trying to break out of his shell. I enjoyed him quite a bit, and far more than Sudeikis. Helms is more or less a nonsensical jackass (which I suppose we have gathered from his Office repertoire) that is not likable at all, either. The movie’s sophomoric writing and plot development basically makes all of these would-be-funny characters wooden puppets, slaves to the strings of bad writing that limits the funny moments to a few every half hour — even that might be generous.

There is some underlying merit to the film, despite how impish the script was in trying to spin the thread of morality that was obviously there from square one; how so many jokes failed in adding to the story much beyond raunchiness. At the heart of the story is something heartwarming, a weird attraction that ends up pulling all these formerly random individuals closer together to the point of actually desiring a family life together. The experiences they go through — as contrived, artificial and damn tedious as they are presented — establish legitimate relationships between the characters, and that was also rewarding.

We’re the Millers satisfies on some kind of mindless entertainment level, but if that’s a compliment, I don’t mean for it to be.


Shameless. So I have to share.

2-0Recommendation: Though the film really means well, I feel there is far too much potential wasted in this movie for me to recommend it fully. Dollar-theater material, people?

Rated: R

Running Time: 110 mins.

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