The Spy Who Dumped Me focuses on Audrey and her boyfriend Drew. The film opens with Drew dumping Audrey by text, because he is a classy gentlemen. In a moment of anger, she and her best friend, Morgan, decide to burn his stuff. However before they can, Drew shows up to reveal that he is a spy. He claims that he has some sensitive information that a terrorist organisation want as well as the C.I.A. When an assassin kills Drew in a raid on Audrey’s apartment she and Morgan must get the information to safe hands. Trouble is, the pair don’t know whose hands are safe.
The Spy Who Dumped Me stars Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, and they shine as Audrey and Morgan respectively. The chemistry between them is phenomenal, with McKinnon solidifying herself as a massive comedy icon, thanks to being the one good thing about the New Ghostbusters movie and her incredible run on SNL, as the wacky Morgan. All the while Kunis matches McKinnon’s manic energy with a more grounded humour, but she doesn’t get lost. Each performer carves out their niche and lives there playing and bouncing off the other to create a heightened reality. In fact, each moment of the film that I enjoyed can be attributed to these two actors. Whether it be Kunis’s character arch from a lady stuck in a small town and a dead end job to a competent spy or a spot on joke from McKinnon.
However, the narrative of The Spy Who Dumped Me feels too big for the characters. Filmmakers lead the audience from one action set piece to another in this elaborate game of keep away. We are never really sure what is going on and where the plot would go next. The issue is that there is not a set goal. Once the primary objective goes wonky there is never really another one to power the story. The only thing we get is that a bad guy wants this information, but we don’t know who the bad guy is.
We have a Russian supermodel, ex-gymnast assassin who is there being menacing in two scenes. But she isn’t the main antagonist. We have an older couple that run a criminal organisation. But they feel separate from the narrative and float on top of it like split cream. Audrey and Morgan are just stumbling through another movie that they have no idea about. It is almost as if the writers thought that the key to a good spy film was all the twists, but they failed to understand that a decent twist comes with a smart set up and pay off.
Even McKinnon, who I would go to bat for on any occasion, feels let down by the script of The Spy Who Dumped Me. She has nowhere to place that immense talent of hers and instead fires it off in all directions. This leads to her becoming somewhat of an irritation as she tries to throw so many jokes at the audience it just becomes white noise. However, when she does land a punchline, there is nothing better.
This plot is all wrapped up in a standard comedy aesthetic. It looks like any other mid-budget comedy, namely Life of the Party, I Feel Pretty, Tag and Book Club. However, you can see that there is a darker film trying to get out from underneath the slightly plastic, overly lit scenes. Mila Kunis kills someone and cuts a mans thumb off. While Kate McKinnon impales someone on an anchor. But we are expected to believe that The Spy Who Dumped Me is still a wacky comedy about wacky people in wacky situations.
It is unfortunate that the story lets the characters down. Because McKinnon and Kunis make an excellent pair and the almost post-credits sequence hints at a possible sequel that could be amazing. But for now, The Spy Who Dumped Me is a great sketch that writers stretched was stretched to almost breaking point.
You can watch The Spy Who Dumped Me in cinemas now