The Spy Who Dumped Me and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Susanna Fogel
Another Spy Comedy, huh? Well I guess there are genres with even worse track records than that, but there’s clearly an uphill battle to be fought considering how bad a lot of these movies turn out; not to mention the fact that the trailer was kind of meh despite the film starring two of my favorite actors working today. I’d rather they be doing OTHER stuff like say a Ghostbusters sequel, but until everyone realizes just how wrong they were about that movie, I guess this will do just fine. Hopefully! Does this movie manage to be a shining example of a genre that is notorious for underwhelming films, or will this succumb to whatever curse has made it so hard to make good Spy Comedies? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) who are two best friends living their normal early thirties lives without a whole lot going for them; particularly Audrey who just got dumped by her boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux). BY TEXT! What a jerk! I sure hope something bad happens to him! Well… just wait fifteen minutes. It turns out that he’s an INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY which comes as news to Audrey and left some Spy MacGuffin in her apartment which he tries to get but is… indisposed in the process, and it’s up to her delver whatever the heck it is to someone somewhere at a specific time! Easy enough, especially with her best friend by her side! Unfortunately, there are a lot of other people looking for whatever this is, including Sebastian and Duffer (Sam Heughan and Hasan Minhaj) who are working for at some sort of spy agency, a Super Assassin named Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno) who’s been hired by someone MYSTERIOUS to take them out, and a bunch of motorcycle henchmen who are more than willing to fire live ammunition in busy streets to try and take out these two nobodies when a less blunt approach would PROBABLY work on these two. They’re not the best when it comes to detecting threats, nor should they considering neither one of them have even used a gun, let alone protected very important MacGuffins! Can Audrey and Morgan deliver this package before getting themselves murdered? Will they be able to save the world by taking this where it needs to go and will there a few double crosses along the way? Will this mission be even more impossible than making a good spy comedy!? Even Tom Cruise isn’t necessarily gonna get THAT right all the time!
Can we just… stop? I mean I LOVE the two 21 Jump Street movies and I hear Spy is pretty good, but I think we’re done. There has to be a moratorium on Spy Comedies considering how bad they’ve gotten (*cough* Keeping Up With The Joneses *cough* The Hitman’s Bodyguard *cough*) with this movie being the latest on the crap pile. I’ll admit that my expectations were rather low going into this, but I certainly didn’t want to hate it! Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis have some fantastic films under their belt and putting them together in one film should have been a shoe in for comedy gold! Sadly there’s only so much they can do to overcome such an awful script that doesn’t manage to be all that funny as a comedy or all that exciting as a spy film and that really seems to be the problem with movies like this, Killers, and even Knight and Day to a certain (albeit it far less) extent. They got it right when Phil Lord and Chris Miller were behind the wheel, but at this point I think it’s time for this MI6 stuff to go MIA.
This film just cannot figure out just how much the story is supposed to MATTER here and so we’re stuck with a nearly two hour slog that has lots of exposition and world building, but it’s all in service to nothing because they cut corners constantly and never let continuity or believability get in the way of a (presumably) good joke. The plot is an incomprehensibly muddled mess that swings wildly from plot point to plot point without any regard to what any of it actually means or how it connects together; especially once we hit the third act and things are supposed to come together. I still don’t know what the heck everyone is fighting over that’s on the MacGuffin, and it’s never clear if there’s a ticking clock or if the bad guys have other plans that they need to stop. Mission Impossible Fallout may not have the most cohesive plot out there, but you get the stakes on a scene to scene basis, and you know how much more or less danger the world is in with every plot turn. Now sure, our two leads are completely out of the loop which is why their role in the story is so haphazard, but the film DOES take time to leave their perspective to focus on the spy characters and what they’re doing and yet even with THAT nothing is particularly clear in this; not to mention that the competency we see from these agents in those moments is completely absent whenever these two enter the picture. If you’re gonna make a comedy that’s ALSO a spy film, it has to be at least a half way decent spy film on its own and this movie can’t even manage to be a competent one.
There are PLENTY of things wrong with this movie, but what bothered me the most (which MIGHT say more about me than the movie itself) is the character that Mila Kunis is playing. I just couldn’t stand her for most of this and she sucked the air out of practically every scene she was in; not that I have problem with her playing the straight woman in this, but there’s more to it than just being a wet blanket all the time. To a certain extent, I think I get what they’re going for here. So many stories like this are about a hapless dude who falls face first into a life of excitement and adventure (and adulthood), so taking that and playing it completely straight with a female character makes a certain amount of sense as a subversion of genre tropes. To me though, she just didn’t sell it as a fun character to watch as her life just felt so unbelievably empty with no real arc to speak of. Her stated character flaw is that she doesn’t finish things so I guess trotting the globe and doing spy stuff is her way of getting past that problem. It doesn’t work though because there’s never any depth to her role or spark of life in her performance, and I’m not saying you can’t have a loser be your main character or have a woman play this kind of role, but there has to be SOMETHING there to root for! Is she good at something? Not really other than feeling sorry for herself and having main character survival powers. Is her character funny or charismatic? No, because the movie takes GREAT PAINS For that not to be the case as a way of solidifying just how much of an awkward mess she is. The only thing that endears her to the audience is her relationship to Kate McKinnon as those two interacting is easily the best aspect of this movie, but the movie just drags interminably whenever she has to do something because the only thing she does is sigh her way through it or start panicking. Maybe I’m missing something here because the closest comparison I can think of is Pineapple Express which similarly had big losers as the main characters, yet I consider that to be a FAR superior movie. It helps that the stakes were WAY lower which made the plot that much easier to build a comedy out of (they’re fighting local drug dealers; not an international terrorist organization) but I think it comes back to her not feeling like much of a PERSON outside of how flawed she is. Seth Rogan in that movie was similarly a loser who didn’t do anything with is life (mostly smoking weed), but he was also someone with some charisma who told jokes and even took his job seriously despite it being a job everyone hates him for doing. I just didn’t get a sense of what Mila Kunis’s life was like outside of this adventure or what she enjoyed doing on a day to day basis. There’s a scene in the trailer where she’s playing an arcade shooter which would have been SOMETHING if they built on it (if she was an enthusiastic gamer that could have been an angle for this), but she clearly doesn’t even care about THAT as she has the same hangdog expression then as when she’s doing anything else.
Now to be clear I did not HATE this movie. On the contrary, I actually liked this one more than some of the other entries in the genre like Keeping Up with the Joneses, and it mainly had to do with the cast. As much as I didn’t like Mila Kunis’s character, she did work well with Kate McKinnon whenever they were on screen together, and McKinnon is still proving to be one of the best comedians working today even if she can’t consistently find a good movie to be in. She’s the goofy one to try and balance out Mila Kunis’s sour puss attitude, and while it doesn’t quite work as well as it should she DOES get some decent jokes and keeps the pace from getting TOO lethargic; at least in parts of the film. On the other end of the spectrum, I think they did some very interesting stuff with Ivanna Sakhno’s character and she does manage to be the one aspect of the spy story that works to any extent, but the movie feels unsure of what to do with her and the way they resolve her storyline in the third act is utterly deflating. If that was where this was ultimately leading, then why did they spend so much time building her up and developing her character? Still, there are at least a few good points in this movies both in terms of its comedy chops and spy narrative, but it’s almost entirely due to the actors themselves and the performances they’re trying to give in such an unspectacular script. There is at least one point in the movie though where it all comes together as the chase scene that is rather early on in the movie was easily the highlight. It managed to blend the action and comedy really well while also giving our cast some solid material to work with, and for a few minutes you can see what this movie could have been with a bit more discipline throughout instead of just on this solid action set piece.
You know what really disheartening about this movie? It’s the fact that we’re NEVER getting a Jupiter Ascending sequel and that we’re PROBABLY past the point of getting one for Ghostbusters, yet someone thought to take talented actors from both of those amazing films and put them in… this. Maybe this will make some decent money, or at least enough to make a modest profit, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is far from either actor’s best work and is far from a strong addition to its genre. If they wanted to make a farce they should have gone all the way, but this half assed bull crap that never decides what it wants to be ultimately has nothing to offer either those looking for a good spy film or those who want to see a decent comedy. Don’t waste your time on this movie when there are so many better things to see right now. We’ll be getting plenty more bad movies this month, so you might as well enjoy the good ones while they’re still in theaters. Now if these two wanted to do a remake of Heat, THEN we’d have something! Heck, I’d buy the popcorn right now just I can see the internet man babies cry about it!
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