The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Kate McKinnon steals the show, almost single-handedly making The Spy Who Dumped Me worth the purchase price.
The film has a lot of energy and is intermittently silly and funny.
Your laughter will likely mask a lot of the film’s deficiencies.
What exactly is this supposed to be? An action-movie comedy or a comedy action-movie? A spy movie or a spoof of spy movies? *shrug emoji*
At times, The Spy Who Dumped Me becomes pretty violent and contrasts from the slapstick comedy that is also present. The tonal shift may jar some viewers’ expectations.
Overall, you may be quoting lines and laughing, but the details of this thing evaporate the moment the end credits arrive.
I have said this before and undoubtedly have written it in previous work: Kate McKinnon is an absolute treasure. The two-time Emmy-winning star of perennial sketch comedy series, “Saturday Night Live,” she has been dipping her toes into the cinematic world for a little while now.
Alongside Mila Kunis, McKinnon lands her first (co-) starring role in The Spy Who Dumped Me, a messy, confused, but fitfully silly spy comedy where the two women play best friends who find themselves becoming accidental spies when Kunis’ now ex-boyfriend, Drew (Justin Theroux), is seemingly gunned down right before she has a chance to give him a proper dressing down for dumping her via text message.
Audrey (Kunis) was unaware that Drew served as a CIA agent, and after she and Morgan (McKinnon) get a glimpse of Drew’s double life, the women go on the run, encountering Sebastian (Sam Heughan), who may or may not be conspiring to keep the ladies safe.
Directed and co-written by Susanna Fogel, The Spy Who Dumped Me is a movie that feels unsure of whether it wants to be an edgy, R-rated, violent spy caper, with comedic elements punctuating the action, or an edgy, R-rated, slapstick comedy, with action sequences punctuating the comedy.
Fogel’s indecisiveness ultimately dooms the film to mediocrity, as her script with David Iserson veers in and out of such scattershot inconsistencies, we have no real idea why anything is happening whatsoever.
McKinnon and Kunis are admittedly a wonderful duo, as Kunis softballs the set-up, and McKinnon consistently hits punchlines out of the park. It does not take long for you to wish they had better, richer material to work with, because as they riff back and forth, we have nebulous double-crosses, previous events perhaps not being what they seem to be, and all the typical tropes that spy movies have both relied upon and mocked for years.
Fogel and Iserson just don’t seem to know where to commit, nor do they seem to have their hearts into a farcical takedown of the spy movie genre. Paul Feig’s terrific 2015 film, Spy, was a wild, careening endeavor for Melissa McCarthy, who steered viewers through a go-for-broke comedy that also served as a rather smart and credible spy movie. It skewered the genre pretty well, but also paid homage to spy movies as a whole.
Pushing nearly two hours, Fogel’s film could lose a fair amount of time and become a tighter, more efficient experience. While we get bogged down in a silly romantic subplot, McKinnon again rescues a number of scenes when she develops an obsession with a British MI-6 director (Gillian Anderson). But then, someone gets shot in the face, impaled, or otherwise meets a violent demise, and we are left wondering if we are still supposed to be laughing or not.
Ultimately, audiences will likely tip their cap to The Spy Who Dumped Me because, and I will say it for the people in the back, Kate McKinnon is an absolute treasure and there are plenty of laughs along the way. She carries the film as far as she can, Kunis does her best to support the effort, but as the movie leaves open the idea of a potential sequel, The Spy Who Dumped Me may best be a film that is left as a stand-alone.
Clearly, Kate McKinnon stands ready to emerge as a leading actress all on her own.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Sam Heughan, Justin Theroux, Gillian Anderson, Hasan Minhaj, Ivanna Sakhno, Fred Melamed, Jane Curtain, Paul Reiser, Tom Stourton.
Director: Susanna Fogel
Written by: Susanna Fogel, Dan Iserson
Release Date: August 3, 2018