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The murder mystery 'See How They Run' left me... disappointed

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There was a moment early in the murder mystery-comedy See How They Run when a character mumbled a word and I didn’t understand it. “Oh, that might have been funny,” I thought, so I backed it up to hear what she’d said. And, well, all I felt was disappointment.

It’s not that the joke ended up being bad, exactly, it’s just that it was the most obvious, least inspired option at that point. And this is kind of what the experience of watching the entire movie was like. It’s not actively bad, it just chooses the most deflating way to tell a joke at nearly every turn, like it needed a couple more rewrites. Look, I am not a particularly funny person, and I was able to anticipate the exact telling of 90 percent of the jokes in the movie. That is not something that reflects well on your comedy writing.

But, of course, See How They Run is also a murder mystery, so what do we have? It’s the 1950s, and Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap is an enormous success in London’s West End. The movie is narrated by Adrien Brody, who plays the director of a proposed film adaptation of the play, and who is, naturally, murdered a few minutes in. Enter police constable Saoirse Ronan and rumpled inspector Sam Rockwell, who must investigate each member of the play’s cast and crew, creating what the movie hopes is a Christie-like scenario with many suspects and shifting motives.

Is it successful? Well, I think it’ll be more successful for you if you’ve only seen three or four other movies. Then it may not bother you as much that the film uses a meta-narrative device that’s as basic as it gets or that the last act of the film just sort of comes out of nowhere, leaving me seriously wondering if there were some scenes unfortunately cut from the movie. To me, it’s just a little bizarre how naïve the makers of the movie seem to be about what qualifies as clever in 2022. But it does seem like they generally mean well, they’re simply misguided. And, so, I’m not mad. Just disappointed.

See How They Run is in theaters September 16th.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.