Directed by: Susanna Fogel
Premise: A woman (Mila Kunis) discovers that her ex-boyfriend was a spy. He left her in possession of information that other groups and governments will kill for. She and her best friend (Kate McKinnon) travel to Europe to get the information into the right hands.
What Works: The Spy Who Dumped Me manages a tenuous combination of action and comedy. The film is consistently funny with a mix of slapstick, sarcasm, and absurdity. Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon are especially good together. They are convincing as best friends and they have an agreeable comic timing. This is also an action film and the set pieces are impressive. They aren’t outstanding but they are competent with the lead characters put in convincing peril. The whole joke of The Spy Who Dumped Me is putting two ordinary women inside the scenarios of a James Bond or Jason Bourne thriller. That contrast is the joke the movie accomplishes that. In a lot of action comedies either the action or the comedy suffers but The Spy Who Dumped Me balances both parts. The bloody violence raises the stakes without making the humor off putting and the comedy heightens the absurdity without cheapening the action. The Spy Who Dumped Me is also a mystery. The two women are in over their heads and not sure who to trust. The filmmakers manage that pretty well and get a lot of comedy and suspense out the confusion and paranoia of the lead characters.
What Doesn’t: The Spy Who Dumped Me is too long. The film runs just short of two hours and it doesn’t have enough plot or suspense or jokes to fill in that length. The movie is consistently funny but it’s never more than mildly amusing. The comedy never takes off and that’s partly due to the length and pacing problems. A lot of the great comedies stack one joke upon another to create a comic momentum that gets the audience laughing. The comic energy of The Spy Who Dumped Me sags in the downtime between jokes. The film also has trouble staying engaging as a spy thriller. The story hinges upon the characters keeping the McGuffin from the bad guys and getting it to the good guys. But it’s not clear what the McGuffin is or why it’s important or what the stakes are if it falls into the wrong hands. Even silly comedies like The Naked Gun or Spy had concrete dramatic stakes that made the action interesting. The Spy Who Dumped Me also suffers from some nonlinear editing. The story jumps backward and forward in time, interrupting the action to show us Mila Kunis’ character meeting her future ex-boyfriend. The transitions between past and present aren’t clear and at times the movie is confusing.
Bottom Line: The Spy Who Dumped Me is an acceptable piece of entertainment, the kind of film to be watched with friends, pizza, and a beverage of choice. It does everything just well enough to be passable.
Episode: #713 (August 26, 2018)