A wealthy, mysterious stranger; a bedeviling beauty; a pair of idiosyncratic sleuths; a corpse. Netflix's Murder Mystery has all the ingredients of a classic whodunit, but with a contemporary and extremely funny twist.
Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler reunite for the first time since 2011's romantic comedy Just Go With It to play Audrey and Nick Spitz, an average American couple who get caught up in a European caper. It's an homage to (and a send-up of) the tales spun by authors like Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — not to mention classic TV procedurals Columbo and Murder, She Wrote.
"I wondered what would happen if you dropped a married couple from Brooklyn in the middle of one of those stories," says screenwriter James Vanderbilt. "What happens if Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston walk into Murder on the Orient Express — and have to be the ones to solve the case? To me that felt like a really funny premise. You could still tell a classic murder mystery, but give it a spin."
On the flight to their long-delayed honeymoon (15 years in the making!), the pair meet the dashing Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans), who invites them to hang with him and an eclectic group of other guests on his family's yacht in Monaco. Quicker than you can say "in the conservatory with the candlestick," Cavendish's elderly uncle, billionaire Malcolm Quince (Terence Stamp) ends up with a foot-long knife in his chest — and Nick and Audrey are suspected of the man's murder.
Luckily, Nick just happens to be one of New York City's finest, and Audrey has picked up some investigative skills of her own from the crime novels she loves. So they set out to find the real culprits and clear their good names.
According to both Vanderbilt and director Kyle Newacheck, Murder Mystery manages to do double duty as an airtight puzzle and a slapstick comedy. "It was incredibly important to me in writing the script that the mystery of the movie worked," Vanderbilt explains.
The pieces all had to fit, in other words. Newacheck insists that the clues are there if you're paying attention. "I laid out all the bread crumbs," says the director, who's excited to find out whether viewers will be able to crack the case before his characters do.
At the same time, he and Vanderbilt wanted to have some fun with the overblown absurdity of detective stories. "For me, that's just a dream — [being] inside a genre and making fun of it at the same time," says Newacheck.
Of course, it doesn't hurt to have two gifted and seasoned comedic actors with amazing onscreen chemistry to help pull that off. "Their back-and-forth is so natural," Newacheck says of Aniston and Sandler. "They're both powerhouses. So entertaining."
Vanderbilt agrees: "Just seeing the two of them together, two of the funniest people in the world at the top of their game throwing jokes [at each other] — it's like watching Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy."
Sounds like this is one Murder that's most fair.
Murder Mystery, Movie Premiere, Friday, June 14, Netflix