What do you get when you put together a pair of top notch comedic actresses, a promising female director and a collection of spy genre cliches and action scenes then mix them up in a blender? Something like “The Spy Who Dumped Me”. Directed and co-written by Susanna Fogel and starring Mela Kunis and Kate McKinnon “The Spy Who Dumped Me” offers a bit of everything, melding humor and action with a fish-out-of-water female buddy story trying to tackle multiple genres at the same time. Some critics have even questions whether this movie’s creators knew the identity they wanted to incorporate into this film. So naturally I took a look for myself. How well does this action spy comedy stack up? Let’s find out. This is my review of “The Spy Who Dumped Me”.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT
In “The Spy Who Dumped Me” Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) are long-time best friends. Audrey is fresh off a breakup with her boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) who dumped her over text message. Audrey soon finds out Drew is a secret spy on the run from several organizations looking to retrieve an item in his possession. As a result, both Audrey and Morgan become entangled in a conspiracy after they are charged with protecting the item Drew has been hiding. Hunted by a terrorist organization, a Russian hitwoman (Ivanna Sakho), an MI6 agent named Sebastian (Sam Heughan) who may or may not be an ally, and others the friends go on the run in Europe as Drew’s secrets and the realities of the item they are transporting come to light. The friends must embrace their inner spies in order to protect each other and ensure they are trusting the right people.
I’m going to be in a minority with this review because unlike many other critics I actually enjoyed “The Spy Who Dumped Be”. I think it’s a fun action movie, a funny and charming buddy comedy and in some ways even an effective satire of the spy genre. Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon are absolutely charming as the main characters and their chemistry is so natural and believable. McKinnon specifically is absolutely hilarious in this movie and while her comedic style doesn’t always jive with me she turns in some of the best one liners here. You can really tell she’s having fun as the goofy, overprotective friend. Sometimes she’s the most bland part of a movie but other times she’s the best part and here she’s one of the best parts of the entire experience. Kunis is charming and memorable as well working well off of McKinnon but serving as the more serious half of the duo to balance things out. In short, I loved these two together. I found them charming, charismatic, and absolutely entertaining as a pair and I’d love to see them work together more.
While there have been many who have criticized “The Spy Who Dumped Me” for being seemingly confused as to what kind of movie it wants to be or what genre it wants to fit in I actually found this to be one of the best aspects of the movie. “The Spy Who Dumped Me” seamlessly melds humor, buddy comedy, and incredible action clichés and even some awesome long-shot sequences to give us a full package. At no time did I feel like this movie was anything but what it wanted to be. The action for me was satisfyingly over the top and the humor rarely went too far, although not every joke landed which I’ll discuss later. Everything from the generic Russian bad guy (an impressively intimidating gymnast played by talented newcomer Ivanna Sakhno) to the typical spy McGuffin, the “who is the bad guy” scenarios, the insane car chases, and the mission to stop a secret terrorist organization are all incorporated into the plot seemingly on purpose in order to create a story that pays homage to and sometimes satirized the spy genre as a whole while also giving is its own unique edge. “The Spy Who Dumped Me” doesn’t paint itself into any corner which leaves the door open for all kinds of entertainment in one package. A week after watching a serious spy film in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” it was actually great to see an equally entertaining action offering that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Now “The Spy Who Dumped Me” in no way compares to the perfection of “Fallout”, but it does borrow from its predecessors successfully to give viewers some great action, well-choreographed and ridiculous fight scenes and shootouts that are sure to entertain any fans of the spy genre with a comedic flair.
I do believe that “The Spy Who Dumped Me” fills a few voids in cinema today. Director Susanna Fogel along with David Iserson wrote a pretty decent script layered with creative and fresh humor. The story and interactions give us a female-led buddy comedy like nothing we’ve really seen before to this point. Usually these films involve men but seeing women take on the roles of oddball friends in a precarious situation feels original and long overdue. Thankfully “The Spy Who Dumped Me” pulls it off and while it does throw a few feminist moments into the mix they’re all delivered in a way that adds to the humor and charm of the characters rather than feeling heavy handed and pretentious. “The Spy Who Dumped Me” is hard-copy proof that women can lead these comedic action epics forcing the men to the sidelines and putting its pair of delightful leads in the driver’s seat and never looking back. The pacing is fast, the characters are delightful, the humor is effective, the action is exhilarating and intense. As a guy who generally dislikes theatrical comedies I would call “The Spy Who Dumped Me” one of the most fun mainstream comedic offerings of 2018 so far.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
While I really did appreciate the humor of “The Spy Who Dumped Me” overall, there were moments that I found to be typical boring attempts at forced laughs where the movie really didn’t need any of that. There’s a lot of body humor and poop jokes in this film from a man with diarrhea to on-screen male anatomy and even references to female anatomy. The irony is these were put in the movie with the intent of scoring some cheap and easy laughs, but they’re not funny. They’re tired, cliché and the delivery on each of these jokes were by far the worst attempts at humor in an otherwise entertaining and funny film. Everything else in this movie is so well presented and spot on that these jokes feel phoned in and out of left field. It honestly feels like these jokes, which aren’t numerous but are very present, were fit in by writers who had no confidence that the audience would be able to appreciate the more subtle and natural attempts as comedy that litter the rest of the project. They just didn’t sit well with me and stained one of the year’s better comedies.
I did feel like “The Spy Who Dumped Me” kind of lost its way in the finale. Up until then the spy clichés, comedy and action are all pretty top notch but in the final half hour it all kind of goes off the deep end. The final confrontations for me, even the ending twist, are predictable and lack a lot of suspense. It all ends the way you think it’s going to end and that spoils some of the fun. I wasn’t a fan of the cirque du soleil scene and the final surprise conflict is resolved just as fast as it’s introduced. The ending doesn’t have the same pacing as the rest of the movie. The humor is more typical and the action is more reserved. It’s not a disappointing end but it’s a finale that doesn’t really fit the spectacle and fun of the rest of the project. Still, overall I found “The Spy Who Dumped Me” to be a great ride and worth the two-hour run time if for nothing else than the great moments of humor and escapism alone.
I’m legitimately surprised by how much I enjoyed “The Spy Who Dumped Me”. I mean it’s not an example of cinematic perfection and doesn’t really take the genres it mixes to new levels, but I don’t think that was the point. It’s the perfect blend of buddy comedy, satire and action that brings out the best of numerous cinematic styles and their clichés. It does loose its way late in the running and incorporates some very unneeded potty and body humor that adds nothing to the final product, but overall I thought “The Spy Who Dumped Me” was a well-paced and charming spy comedy that deserves more respect than it has been getting. It was fun and delightfully amusing leaving me wanting more once the credits rolled. It’s a fine blend of action and comedy with great leads and awesome style that I would highly recommend.