Jews have a proud history in entertainment — Sarah Bernhardt, Molly Picon, Mel Brooks, Barbra Streisand — what a source of gladness and pride for our community! We could watch, read, and listen for 100 years, and still not have canvassed the extraordinary ever-growing legacy of Jews entertaining America.
And yet we still found time to watch “Murder Mystery,” the glossy Netflix-made vacation romp that stars Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Life is short and then you die, and if you spent 97 minutes watching an aging Adam Sandler try to solve a murder mystery on a boat, that’s okay — it was fun, honestly!
🚨ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER ANISTON BREAKING NEWS ALERT🚨
30,869,863 accounts watched Murder Mystery in its first 3 days - the biggest opening weekend ever for a Netflix Film. 13,374,914 accounts in the US and Canada, and 17,494,949 more worldwide.— Netflix Is A Joke (@NetflixIsAJoke) June 18, 2019
Netflix claims that over 31 million people watched the summery movie made by Sandler’s production company, which contains as many paid endorsements for Claritin as it does dead bodies (we lost count of both.) The murder mystery here is about as interesting as playing the board game Clue with a group of clumsy children. But the easy banter between married couple Claire and Nick, played by Aniston and Sandler, is — and it wilts every fiber in our liberal arts diplomas to say this — oddly charming.
Adam Sandler is polarizing. Sure, most of us like it when he begs celebrities to perform at his daughter’s bat mitzvah party, but Sandler has developed from weirdo-we-let-hang-around-the-frat-house to depressing-neighbor-we-invite-places-out-of-pity. And Aniston’s thing these days seems to mostly involve drinking bottled water while beautiful. Together and in fiction, though, they are a strange and overwhelming advertisement for the endless trudge of marriage and monogamy. They just make it seem…delightful.
Netflix is famously secretive with numbers, selectively releasing unverified streaming statistics whenever it serves them. Claiming that nearly 31 million people saw “Murder Mystery” in the first three days of its release, pointed out film historian Peter Labuza, would make the frothy action movie the third biggest opening weekend of the year, and give it a higher watch rate than the “Game of Thrones” finale by more than 10 million.
Is Netflix counting people who pressed play, saw that Jennifer Aniston was going to have to do the same stunts as Sandler but in heeled espadrilles, and instantly clicked it off? Perhaps! All we can report is that “Murder Mystery” is a fun watch if you’re the kind of person who is sometimes too tired to press “skip ad” in the lead-up to a YouTube video.
And sometimes that’s nice, in addition to the Streisands and Seinfelds.
Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny