Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Film Review: The Spy Who Dumped Me

Sexuality/Nudity Offensive
Violence Mature
Vulgarity Mature
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Mature

This movie is not aggressively bad and there are moments when you think that it will actually take flight.  But it is weighed down by its own vulgarity.

The Spy Who Dumped Me stars Mila Kunis as Audrey who is celebrating her 30th birthday with quirky best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon), even though the birthday girl was just dumped by her long time boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux).  But two shady guys in a van named Sebastian (David Iserson) and Duffer (Hasan Minhaj) tell Audrey that Drew was secretly a spy and has information vital to the security of the blah, blah, blah.  This sets off a chain of events that puts Audrey and Morgan on a whirlwind ride through Europe full of funny spy hijinks.

What surprised me most about this movie is that it actually had a fairly good spy-thriller plot.  About two-thirds of the way through the film I was actually trying to anticipate the next set of twists and turns like it was something out of the James Bond or Mission: Impossible series.  The opening action sequence was one that was unexpectedly thrilling in its execution of stunt choreography.  That element of intrigue elevated the movie slightly, And writer/director Susanna Fogel was so competent at it that I would like to see her take on a full action film.  If the comedy was able to stick the landing, then this would have been a big hit.

To be sure, there are laughs to be had in The Spy Who Dumped Me.  This comes off best when Kunis and McKinnon blow up with over-the-top fear and panic at the cacophony of violence around them.  When they work at this level, the humor is fast and furious.  Watching the two yell at each other while being shot at and navigating a dead body in the driver's seat of their car leads to some wonderfully absurd moments.  It's when the movie slows down and depends on the witty delivery of the jokes that things don't hum along quite as well.  Kunis has proven she can be a leading lady comedienne, as we saw in Ted and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  But she delivers a performance more akin to her character from That '70's Show.  McKinnon also never quite gets much deeper than her performance in Ghostbusters.  The rest of the cast fills out their roles well, but so much of the dialogue feels improvised and not in a good way. 

The movie is also strangely vulgar, with brief full-frontal male nudity and references to items shoved into body cavities.  The value of the quick shock laugh has such a diminishing return once the theater lights turn on.  The use of over-the-top violence does work because Fogel uses it as a springboard to her best jokes.  McKinnon's character is particularly outlandish.  At one point, another character insults her by saying that she is "a little much."  We are supposed to feel sorry for Morgan at this point, but it is difficult to do so because you are probably going to agree with the critique.  If they had worked a little harder making Morgan endearing, rather than crazy, the movie would have worked better.  McKinnon also has to work with her character's strange, socially aware mini-lectures blunt the edge of so many of her punchlines.

Somewhere in The Spy Who Dumped Me is a fairly decent action/comedy.  But it is buried under a vulgar series of gags that never quite lands.  With a little tweak to the jokes, the movie would be much more enjoyable.  But as it is, I would wait until Netflix at least.

image by Yasir72.multan

No comments:

Post a Comment