Sandler returns as Nick Spitz, an NYC police officer who has hung up traditional police work to become a crime solver with his wife Audrey (Jennifer Aniston). After the chaotic action of the original, they’ve become private dicks, solving crimes for a fee, but they’re struggling to make it work. A quick-cut prologue that feels likely (and mercifully) truncated after I bet some test screenings went awry, the real action of “Murder Mystery 2” kicks in when the Maharajah from the original film (Adeel Akhtar) invites him to a lavish wedding in a tropical locale. Once again, Audrey and Nick are outsiders in a foreign land, which allows for a bit of ‘Ugly Americans’ humor but mostly plays into registers of class humor instead. In both films, they’re struggling to make ends meet and they’re thrust into worlds with people who toss around millions of dollars like money has no meaning. These punny Poirots are outsiders not merely because they come from another country, but from what looks like another world when it comes to wealth and privilege, and Aniston and Sandler are good at conveying that without relying on it for cheap humor.
The Maharajah’s wedding is massive affair, complete with group dancing and an entrance on an elephant. That’s when things go awry. The groom’s bodyguard ends up being the one on the pachyderm, murdered by a cheese knife in the side, but it’s really a distraction for the Maharajah to be kidnapped. Who’s behind it? “Murder Mystery 2” sets up a group of suspects that includes the bride Claudette (Melanie Laurent), an ex-girlfriend named Countess Sekou (Jodie Turner-Smith), the sister Saira (Kuhoo Verma), a business partner named Francisco (Enrique Arce), and an ace negotiator named Miller (Mark Strong), but this isn’t “Glass Onion.” The mystery of the title is merely a way to drive the plot from one silly set piece to another, and, before they know it, the Spitzes are racing through the streets of Paris with ransom money and dangling from the Eiffel Tower.
Aniston is “along for the ride” more than ever and isn’t given quite enough to do here to match her comedic talent, but she does have an easy-going chemistry with Sandler that’s undeniable. These two have been acting together for years, and there’s an unforced dynamic to their repartee that’s essential to a film like this. We should never question if the leads even like each other in a movie like “Murder Mystery 2,” and that never happens here. They’re not exactly deep characters—the breakneck nature of the kidnapping plot doesn’t allow it—but Aniston and Sandler do a lot by merely relying on their familiarity with one another as performers. And the supporting cast understands how to get out of their way, making an impact when they can but never distract from the momentum of the piece in the manner that Happy Madison regulars often do (looking at you, Schneider).