Four Private Watch Party Murder/Mystery Movies
3/25/2021 • 3 min read
The murder/mystery genre got a magnificent update when KNIVES OUT debuted in 2019, and we're happy that audiences still love the classic whodunnit. While thrillers have never gone out of style, the whodunnit is a unique blend of mystery storytelling, dry (and sometimes not-so-dry) comedy, and memorable ensemble casts playing larger-than-life characters.
This spring, we've got great murder/mystery movies lined up in our Comeback Classics series. Bring friends and family together for a Private Watch Party and come back to the movies for the sort of entertainment only a Hollywood whodunnit can provide. We've got KNIVES OUT and several other options, as you'll see below.
Makers of the best whodunnits know that "who did it" is a lot less important than the energy a bunch of great actors can create as they scramble around trying to untangle a knotted plot. CLUE is both a farcical send-up of the concept and a delightful example of the genre at its best. Does it matter who killed Mr. Boddy? Not really, as the string of different endings proves. What matters is that this cast — Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren — has every opportunity to fire off rapid strings of verbal gags while gracefully stumbling through frantic slapstick. CLUE is endlessly quotable and still just as funny today as it was when it first lit up the screen.
Is this is the most slept-on great studio comedy of the last decade? Experts say yes! Casual competition brought Max and Annie (Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams) together, and the only hitch in their regular game night is the interest of an ultra-serious neighbor, played by a perfect Jesse Plemons. Well, and Max's insecurity about his relationship to his super-successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler). When Brooks invades game night, an absolutely unbelievable and very funny series of events is set in motion. This isn't exactly a murder/mystery movie in the classic sense, but the twisty plot is close enough. And with Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Michael C. Hall, and a pitch-perfect Jesse Plemons in the ensemble cast, GAME NIGHT has big whodunnit energy.
Writer/director Rian Johnson is a big fan of classic murder/mysteries and his fandom shows in this meticulously-crafted whodunnit. In addition to loads of nods to other genre classics, this story — about the investigation that ensues after a wealthy writer (Christopher Plummer) dies, seemingly by his own hand — features a cast of thorny, irritable, and greedy characters all vying for their piece of the family fortune. Because they are played by the likes of Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell, the film's black-hearted characters are compulsively watchable. With Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, and Lakeith Stanfield working to counterbalance all the bad energy, KNIVES OUT immediately became a new classic of the form.
The teen detective Nancy Drew has had a long run in a wide variety of media, all the way up to a good low-key 2019 movie and unrelated TV series from the same year. The best recent big-screen version of Nancy Drew is this 2007 movie, with Emma Roberts as the plucky young woman who can't quit her fascination with solving mysteries. This movie combines the classic Nancy Drew formula with old Hollywood film noir inspiration to create a mystery that does the teen detective proud.
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All images courtesy of Lionsgate, Paramount, Warner Bros. Pictures.