The Spy Who Dumped Me
Updated: Feb 7, 2020
It seems as though violent action buddy comedies are now becoming a thing in Hollywood. Last year there was the entertaining and very bloody The Hitman’s Bodyguard, a modest hit featuring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson cracking wise while leaving a trail of bodies across Europe. Now comes The Spy Who Dumped Me, where Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon play lifelong best friends who get in way over their heads in a plot involving spies and terrorists.
You would not think a comedy about two regular citizens accidentally being pulled into international espionage would have brutal violence in it. You would be wrong. While this film is not quite as bloody as The Hitman’s Bodyguard, its uneven mixture of violent action and overly complicated plot twists with wacky buddy hijinks just does not work. The story overwhelms the humor, turning this into an occasionally diverting mess.
Mila Kunis is Audrey, an aimless woman celebrating her thirtieth birthday. Shortly after we meet her, she learns from a couple of government agents that the boyfriend who recently broke up with her via text is a spy. Various people suspect he left her something of value, so she soon finds herself on the run with her best friend (Kate McKinnon, holding nothing back) with no idea what they are doing or who they can trust.
Despite being irrelevant to the production’s success, the plot is far more complex than what I have laid out. It is taken relatively seriously, which is a shame because it is not interesting. The action is not particularly good either, yet it takes up a lot of time. Some of it is played for laughs, but it never really clicks. It is too violent for a comedy and not creative enough for an action movie. The scenes intended to be purely comedic have their moments, but The Spy Who Dumped Me drags mightily because it focuses too much on its silly plot.
Mila Kunis has shown she can be a funny and engaging actress in the right material. In Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the first Bad Moms she was charming and confident. She plays a similar kind of role here, but it is in the wrong type of story. Her character should be freaking out (especially since part of her backstory is that she is boring and risk-averse), but far too often she plays Audrey like an action hero. She adapts surprisingly quickly for someone who rarely leaves her neighborhood.
Kate McKinnon is goofy and energetic as Morgan. She has a handful of effective moments of comic relief (her and Kunis do have good chemistry together), but there is so much of her. She never turns it off for any of the movie’s 107 minute running time (plus a mid-credits scene), which eventually becomes exhausting. Even when their life is in jeopardy, she is making off-color jokes or dropping odd non-sequiturs. It is like the filmmakers were unable to figure out the parts that should just be funny and the parts that should be action so they threw them both in as much as possible.
The Spy Who Dumped Me is a seriously confused movie. The spy adventure aspect is not very good, not that you would expect it to be in something like this. There is still enough of it that it gets in the way. There are some enjoyable bits and a few promising gag setups, however the story is so overloaded that it screws up the rhythm. This is not as disastrous as it might sound; it is just so busy trying to be multiple things at once that it fails to be the one thing it needed to be: consistently funny.
2 out of 5
Mila Kunis as Audrey
Kate McKinnon as Morgan
Sam Heughan as Sebastian
Justin Theroux as Drew
Hasan Minhaj as Duffer
Ivanna Sakhno as Nadedja
Gillian Anderson as Wendy
Jane Curtain as Carol
Paul Reiser as Arnie
Directed by Susanna Fogel
Written by Susanna Fogel and David Iserson