Mission Improbable: A Review Of "The Spy Who Dumped Me"
It may be sheer coincidence that The Spy Who Dumped Me hits the screens a week after Mission Impossible - Fallout; but I’d like to think they’re interconnected, the path from impossible to improbable, paved with extreme silliness. At first, I have to admit that I thought this would merely be a feminist buddy version of Paul Feig’s Spy that starred Melissa McCarthy. That 2015 film wonderfully spoofed the James Bond Spy genre films; and admittedly, would be hard to top. Thankfully, Director and co-writer Susanna Fogel, and co-writer Dan Iserson, don’t even try to go that route; and instead hinge the film on the chemistry between lead stars Mila Kunis and comedian Kate McKinnon (of Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters).
Audrey (Mila Kunis) is that earnest, under-appreciated woman who falls head over heels to the guy who’s nice to her; in this case, Drew (Justin Theroux). When Drew seems to have fallen off the planet, Audrey finds consolation with best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon), and the two are as different as night & day. What Drew has been keeping secret is his double identity, that of a spy who’s on the tail of an international conspiracy. It’s when he resurfaces and begs Audrey to help him and deliver coded information to Europe that Audrey & Morgan get caught up in the whole spy business, while making it their Great European adventure.
Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin, it’s like we’re whisked away to a tour of European cities while riding along with this improbable pair. Spy movie cliché after cliché pile up as the film chugs along to its predictable resolution. We make fun of American tourists in Europe who don’t appreciate Europe’s history and culture, and we’re sidetracked by the appearance of the suspicious but devilishly charming British agent Sebastian (Sam Heughan). It’s almost like we’re being taken on a ride that begs for improvisation or something original and unexpected.
Kunis has a lot of talent, but she is under-utilized in this film which leans too heavily on Kate McKinnon just being herself. That’s great and I love McKinnon’s work, but you can’t place the whole film squarely on her shoulders and expect the comedy to be sustained on that basis. There are some great lines and wordplay between the two stars; but there are times that you yearn for more inspired comedy in the structure, situations, or plot twists. That’s where Spy excelled, throwing curves from out of nowhere, like casting Jason Statham, who made fun of his own screen persona.
Spy Who Dumped Me is entertaining enough, and I confess there were bits that had me smiling. You just wish the sum were as good as some of its parts; and that Kunis and McKinnon had better material to play with and make their marks. Honestly, if this was Netflix and I stumbled across this film, I would have called it a pleasant surprise; but on the big screen.
Lead images from @spywhodumpedme