The Spy Who Dumped Me
Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
It’s too half-baked in tone, too tone-deaf in its jokes, and too jokey in its half-baked plotting…
Ever been in a conversation where neither you nor the other person have anything better to do with your time? You’re just chatting to fill up air, maybe telling a few jokes, because just the act of socialising is enough to occupy yourselves? Well, imagine being stuck in a confined space for nearly two hours, not actually doing any of the talking, but just watching other people talk. All while a whole slew of things are going on that should take precedent, but no-one seems too concerned about any of it. And now stop imagining because that’s all this movie amounts to.
With every joke that gets uttered by our admittedly-bankable cast, there follows a sinking feeling that writers Susanna Fogel (Life Partners) and David Iserson (United State Of Tara, New Girl) are working off of a rather antiquated rulebook. It’s the kind of humour where, despite how madcap the proceedings appear at first, it’s far easier than it should be to outright guess the punchline ahead of time. Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon are definitely trying to make this material work, and credit to them that their chemistry feels this on-point, but when you get to the point of using “guess what happened to the magician; he disappeared”, the salvage crew has their work cut out for them. Then again, McKinnon’s rather Vegemite delivery (you either love it or you want to immediately spit it back out) can make some of these one-liners feel even more off-side.
But more so than the quality of the jokes themselves, it’s how they clang rather noisily against the bigger plot that raises the bigger problem. Throughout the film, we keep getting this ostensible world-shaking plot about a mysterious package and all of these gun-toting parties who are after it… only to be interrupted by several minutes of our leads just riffing in supposed dead air. Considering said dead air can take place during a car chase, a number of shoot-outs, even a moment where Kunis and McKinnon finds themselves being tortured for information, it seems like no real direction has been made as far as story goes. Hell, the closest we actually get to coherent narrative basically amounts to a MacGuffin plot, and a scarcely-explained MacGuffin at that, meaning that sitting through a lot of this weak humour doesn’t even get us anywhere worthwhile.
Justin Theroux and Sam Heughan may do more than adequately in selling the action scenes, but it’s not nearly enough to ultimately excuse the trudge it takes to get to them.
Between Paul Feig’s Spy, Daley and Goldstein’s Game Night and even the recently-released Tag, there’s enough evidence that being able to combine raunchy comedy with legitimate action thrills is both possible and potentially entertaining. Such a shame then that this film, with only token showings of feminine solidarity under its belt, is unable to pull off the same trick. It’s too half-baked in tone, too tone-deaf in its jokes, and too jokey in its half-baked plotting for that to happen.