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‘Glass Onion’ Will Make You Laugh Until You Cry

The smashing ‘Knives Out’ mystery sequel screens for one week before it hits Netflix in December

(Left to right) Kate Hudson as Birdie, Jessica Henwick as Peg, Daniel Craig as Detective Benoit Blanc and Leslie Odom Jr. as Lionel in "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery."
(Left to right) Kate Hudson, Jessica Henwick, Daniel Craig and Leslie Odom Jr. in "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery."
John Wilson/Netflix

Rian Johnson, who’s evidently incapable of directing a movie that isn’t fun (including the last great Bruce Willis movie, 2012’s Looper), brings you the season’s most fun film, playing for a sneak-peek week in theaters Nov. 23-29 (before its Dec. 23 Netflix debut). It’s a sequel to his word-of-mouth smash hit Knives Out (2019), but except for Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), the sly, laid-back sleuth with the Southern Comfort-smooth drawl and a mind like Agatha Christie’s mousetrap, it’s an all-fresh cast, everybody having the time of their lives.

Edward Norton (center) as Myles in "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery."
Edward Norton (center) stars as Miles Bron.
Netflix

The first film, shot for $40 million, was confined to a mansion. Johnson got a reported $469 million for two Knives Out sequels, and this first one is set on the appropriately ridiculously luxurious private Greek island of tech zillionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton, superbly spoofing what some might consider the malevolent egomaniacal bonhomie of Elon Musk). Miles invites a gaggle of his entertainingly eccentric friends, who called themselves “the Disrupters” — a term of honor to tech types — to a murder mystery party in his sun-drenched resort topped by a glass-walled palace named after a bar they used to frequent, called the Glass Onion. As any techie knows, disrupters tend to move fast and break things, and so does this fizzy romp of a film.

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Miles’ guest Birdie Jay (Kate Hudson in her best role since Almost Famous) is a witless ex-supermodel and online fashion entrepreneur whose frantic assistant (amusing Jessica Henwick) races to undo the chronic damage of clueless Birdie’s appalling, career-cancelingly offensive tweets.

(Left to right) Kathryn Hahn as Claire, Madelyn Cline as Whiskey, Edward Norton as Miles, Leslie Odom Jr. as Lionel and Kate Hudson as Birdie in "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery."
(Left to right) Kathryn Hahn as Claire Debella, Madelyn Cline as Whiskey, Edward Norton as Miles Bron, Leslie Odom Jr. as Lionel Toussaint and Kate Hudson as Birdie Jay.
John Wilson/Netflix

Dave Bautista’s muscleheaded, tattooed buffoon Duke Cody is another wannabe internet star, whining about downtrodden men’s rights on a YouTube show headquartered in his mom’s basement. His ditzy wisp of a girlfriend Whiskey (Madeline Cline) wants to use him, or anybody, to grow her own nonexistent fame. (She doesn’t deserve it, but hey, neither does Miles.) Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. plays Miles’ apparently earnest inventor colleague, and Kathryn Hahn a stressed-out politician. Their two roles are underwritten, not up to the actors’ talents, but even so, they're efficient cogs in the story’s whirring machine.

More intriguing and well-rounded is Andi Brand (Hidden Figures’ brilliant Janelle Monáe, funnier than you’ve ever seen her), who helped start Miles’ business, then got frozen out. If anybody has a motive for homicide, it’s she — but don’t jump to any conclusions on Miles’ isle.

(Left to right) Edward Norton, Madelyn Cline, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae and Daniel Craig in "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery."
(Left to right) Edward Norton, Madelyn Cline, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae and Daniel Craig.
John Wilson/Netflix

There are also lots of cameos — Angela Lansbury, Stephen Sondheim, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ethan Hawke and Yo-Yo Ma, whose explanation of the musical form called the fugue is applicable to the movie’s intricate, switcheroo-rich plot. The title, of course, refers to John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s song that makes fun of fans who try to read their tunes as clues to deep mysteries.

The only deeps in Glass Onion are the ones beneath the wine-dark seas that splash upon Miles’ pricey island, while he plays a McCartney song “on the guitar Paul wrote it on,” as he lordly informs his guests. But there are nimbly orchestrated whodunit mysteries aplenty, and you’ll have a blast getting surprised by them.

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You’ll enjoy it well enough if you wait to see it on Netflix. But when was the last time you got to laugh out loud along with a theater full of delighted people watching a movie whose plot, however outrageous, makes sense?

Watch it: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, R , in theaters Nov. 23-29, on Netflix Dec. 23