I was recently browsing Netflix, without any sort of goal in mind. TV show, movie, I didn’t really care, as long as I was watching something interesting.
I’m not sure what exactly possessed me, but when I stumbled upon “Murder Mystery” and watched the trailer, I knew that it was exactly what I needed: a stupid, funny movie. Something I could watch practically on autopilot.
To be clear, I’m not a big mystery fan. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a mystery movie. Yet I still found myself unironically watching “Murder Mystery” and it was about everything the trailer showed it would be.
I had a good time watching it, despite some glaring flaws which I will go through. Before examining those, while watching the movie I realized the fact this movie had a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes didn’t affect my level of enjoyment at all.
I’m aware that realization seems obvious, but in the moment something clicked in my brain that movies like this, which leave a bland, lukewarm feeling after you digest the viewing, can never be viewed as more.
So now I’d like to make a case for the mediocrity and why we should value it just as much as prestige cinema, as average moviegoers, or in this case, as average movie streamers.
Entertainment doesn’t always have to be enlightening. I don’t know when this idea got into society, but I imagine it’s been around for a long time.
We watch movies, in blanket terms, to escape the world for a while. By what standard does that mean I have to also be intelligently engaged in my escape?
Yes, it’s nice sometimes to watch something intellectually stimulating. But let me tell you, that’s not what I need during my summer vacation.
We are allowed to create our own standards for what constitutes a good movie and even though “Murder Mystery” would be ruled out as a bad one automatically by websites, like Rotten Tomatoes, the critics don’t make up the majority base of viewers.
“Murder Mystery” made me smile and at times laugh. More importantly, I was thoroughly entertained for the duration. It was only after that my more analytical side took over and started to pick the details apart.
It’s true that the characters were all sorely underdeveloped, a considerable problem in a movie with an ensemble cast.
It’s also true the grand plot twist was clear miles away.
I even admit the sheer luck our protagonists relied on was irritating.
Those problems didn’t bother me the way they would in another film because I decide the value this movie has to me based on different standards. Maybe that’s hypocritical, but it’s more fair to the wide range of movies than standards that refuse to shift in changing contexts.
Here, the context was both my life and what/who the movie was made for.
The classic plot, containing every mystery cliche in the book was comforting instead of deflated.
The long, repetitive jokes had lasting appeal.
The coincidences that set the flimsy plot in motion became rather charming.
In short, don’t watch “Murder Mystery” unless you think you could also use it’s stumblingly simple attitude to brighten up your life. It’s no masterpiece, that’s for sure.