A Quick Diagnosis
Like the other movies in the "Murder 101" series you don't need to have watched any of the others to follow "Murder 101: College Can Be Murder" as it is basically little more than an extended episode from "Diagnosis Murder" just with Dick Van Dyke and his son Barry Van Dyke playing different characters. It's entertaining in the same light hearted manner as the other "Murder 101" movies with Dick Van Dyke reprising his role as absent minded Dr. Jonathan Maxwell whilst Barry Van Dyke playing best friend Mike Bryant with a couple of other members of the Van Dyke family in minor roles. But whilst fun "Murder 101: College Can Be Murder" suffers from the weakest of storylines as we have a death, several suspects and not a great deal of investigating before Jonathan and Mike solve the crime.
When fellow lecturer Archer Coe (Alex Hyde-White) drops dead during a meeting to discuss tenure Dr. Jonathan Maxwell (Dick Van Dyke - Night at the Museum) is more suspicious than the rest of the staff who seem happy to pass it off as a heart attack. With the help of best friend and private investigator Mike Bryant (Barry Van Dyke) they start snooping around and find that several people from a bookie to an angry father of a student who Coe was bedding had reason to murder him. As they try to work out why and who Jonathan is also having to deal with an over eager journalist who uses anything he says in her articles and he's also on the hunt of a young man who stole his antique push bike.
So to put it simply if you have seen any of the other "Murder 101" movies or watched Dick Van Dyke and son Barry in "Diagnosis Murder" you will know what to expect as "Murder 101: College Can Be Murder" runs to familiar formula. That means we have the Dick and Barry trying to get to the bottom of what Jonathan suspects to be murder whilst we also get plenty of light hearted fun thrown in from Mike double booking dates, the stolen push bike and of course Jonathan being a bit absent minded. It is a formula which in its familiarity works because you watch "Murder 101: College Can Be Murder" knowing what to expect and it delivers exactly that, easy to watch fun.
But whilst Dick Van Dyke and Barry play their characters in the same light hearted, enjoyable manner and we have a variety of fun scenes from Jonathan on a treadmill to Mike messing up his dates "Murder 101: College Can Be Murder" does have a weakness. Now it almost seems daft to say this because these "Murder 101" movies are not about a tight crime scene investigation but this time the whole investigation side seems incredibly weak. We get served up a whole plethora of suspects all of which have a motive to have killed Archer Coe but it feels like after some going back and forth out of nowhere Jonathan and Mike get to the bottom of things.
What this all boils to is that "Murder 101: College Can Be Murder" is pretty much on par with the rest of the "Murder 101" movies serving up plenty of light hearted fun for the Van Dyke Duo. It does suffer from have one of the weaker storylines as things just magically fall into place but in the end you watch this because of Dick Van Dyke and his son Barry and they are as much fun as ever.