The Age of the Van Dykes
Technically "Murder 101: The Locked Room Mystery" or "Murder 101: New Age" as it was originally called is not a good movie or at least when you compare to other movies, the storyline has lots of holes, the characters are quite flat and the acting in places leaves a lot to be desired. But then a movie doesn't have to be good to be entertaining and like with the previous "Murder 101" movies this 4th in the series works because of the Van Dykes, mainly Dick and son Barry but also for Barry's sons Shane and Carey. It also has that easy going nature, the touches of humour and in this case the fun of Jonathan and Mike solving a case surrounding the death of a new age healer.
After a chance encounter at a murder mystery dinner Mike (Barry Van Dyke) meets the new age Arielle (Mia Cottet) who introduces him and Jonathan (Dick Van Dyke) to Samuel (Charles Shaughnessy) at a new age retreat. But when Samuel is found shot in a locked room with 4 clients all of who are in deep, hypnotic meditation Jonathan, Mike and his nephew Ben (Shane Van Dyke) start investigating the mystery of how Samuel could have been murdered.
First up the actual basic mystery of "Murder 101: The Locked Room Mystery" is a good one, any murder which seems impossible is going to be fascinating. But then whilst the basic idea is fascinating the actual solving of the mystery is slim, by that I mean that there are huge holes and contrivances as Jonathan and Mike solve the crime. Does it matter, not really because whilst the mystery is important how the murder was done is not so important.
The reason why the lack of a solid, well worked out plot isn't an issue is because "Murder 101: The Locked Room Mystery" is really all about the special brand of entertainment which comes from having 3 generations of Van Dykes in a movie. Anyone who watched the TV series "Diagnosis Murder" will know what I mean because whilst different people the way they interact is very much the same. That means we have Dick Van Dyke delivering the comedy of being old and quirky, Barry being the tough investigator who whilst Ben's uncle acts like a father figure to him. It is that familiarity and connection which makes "Murder 101: The Locked Room Mystery" enjoyable rather than for anything else which happens.
Having said that it is a fun idea of having the macho Mike dating the new age Arielle who is very spiritual. You just have to smile when Mike thinks he's about to get lucky only to have to deal with Arielle being into Tantra, meditation and no actual physical contact.
What this all boils down to is that "Murder 101: The Locked Room Mystery" is really about the Van Dyke family being on screen rather than the actual story. It is all about Dick, Barry and Shane and how they interact with each other with the added bonus of Carey Van Dyke also appearing rather than the actual solving of the murder mystery.