Remember the Melissa McCarthy movie ‘Spy’ back in 2015? What a hoot! Right film, with the right cast and creatives. Yeah, ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ isn’t that movie. It wishes it was, but it’s not.
Filmmaker Susanna Fogel (yay, women in film!), whose credits include some TV and a film from 2014 that went nowhere, has taken a cinematic trope - romance under fire - and attempted to add some comedy and a character who derives great pleasure and energy from feminism and tried to make it entertaining. She failed.
Kate McKinnon, however, succeeded. Like all great (and even not so great) SNL alum, McKinnon has made a few noble big screen efforts; she’s consistently great, but the projects she picks are nowhere near worthy of her talents. ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ is no exception. She gobbles up every piece of scenery like I gobble up cupcakes - fast and with little consideration to those around me. McKinnon’s co-stars Mila Kunis (‘Bad Moms’), Justin Theroux ('Charlie’s Angles: Full Throttle’) and Sam Heughan (TV’s ‘Outlander') could have been replaced by a tennis ball, a Spoodle and a mannequin with an English accent and the film would have been the same. Welcome to the Kate McKinnon show!
It’s Audrey’s (Kunis) birthday, and while her BFF Morgan (McKinnon) is trying her best to cheer her up, Audrey is too busy lamenting her recent breakup from Drew (Theroux). As it turns out, Drew is a spy, and when he comes to collect a box of his stuff from Audrey (after she threatened to set it on fire), assassins and the CIA come out of the woodworks leaving the totally ill-equipped and out-of-their-league Audrey and Morgan to travel to Europe to deliver a package on Drew’s behalf. Without knowing what’s really going on or who to trust, it becomes a game of twists, turns, double crosses and one freaky European model/assassin/former Olympic gymnast (Ivanna Sakhno, ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’).
From the onset this Kunis-led caper is outmatched, out-acted and out-comedied by McKinnon.
From the onset this Kunis-led caper is outmatched, out-acted and out-comedied (yes, I just made up a word) by McKinnon. Even on screen, Audrey is a going-nowhere-fast grocery store clerk while Morgan is a gregarious actress. Not to mention a screenplay that’s light on actual jokes or gags, but has been translated into heavy on violence. Watching a motorcycle rider get thrown 30 feet into the air and pancaked on the road versus the girls arguing over the fact that they’ve just carjacked a manual that neither know how to drive doesn’t quite feel even.
It’s neither the raucous comedy nor the smart savvy spy you want, leaving it a disappointment on both sides and you wondering why you even bothered. Look, ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ has its laughs and its chases and its action sequences - but none blow your hair back to leave you believing that this is a classic, nor is it really worth your time and money. Having said that, McKinnon is gold and the film’s saving grace. Give this woman a damn leading role for once!