Although Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon are undeniably talented actresses, even they can’t save this film from feeling disappointingly mediocre.
Synopsis: Audrey and Morgan, two thirty-year-old best friends in Los Angeles, are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Surprising even themselves, the duo jump into action, on the run throughout Europe from assassins and a suspicious-but-charming British agent, as they hatch a plan to save the world. (eOne Films)
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan
Writer: Susanna Fogel, David Iserson
Director: Susanna Fogel
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 116mins
Long story short, The Spy Who Dumped Me could’ve been so much better. With Kunis and McKinnon as the two leads, there is definitely no shortage of talent involved in this film. Sitting at 116 minutes, there is far too much packed into the story. It could have easily been cut to a slimmer 90-100 minute runtime, without sacrificing anything meaningful. There are scenes that are far too long. The story is familiar and predictable (which isn’t necessarily always a bad thing), and the audience can easily guess where the film is going to go next. But, the worst trap that Susanna Fogel’s film falls into is being obvious.
It’s effortless to tell exactly when and where writers Fogel & Iserson want you to laugh. It’s as if they’re there, in the theatre, nudging you and whispering “please laugh” whenever something mildly funny happens. Remember when Jeb Bush, after giving what he thought was a stirring speech, asked the audience to “please clap?” That’s essentially what this film feels like. Comedies that expect their audiences to laugh, instead of earning it, aren’t doing their job right. It takes the viewer out of the experience.
Despite the flaws in writing and the familiarity of the story, The Spy Who Dumped Me isn’t a bad time. The story is familiar, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not fun to sit through it. Although McKinnon and Kunis don’t go together as well as one would hope, individually they are very talented. Kunis as Audrey has shown in the past that she can be phenomenal in comedic roles. McKinnon, who hasn’t particularly been amazing in past films, feels like she fits the character of Morgan perfectly. Both actresses are doing the best with what they’re given. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to raise this film to anything above mediocrity.
The overarching problem with the film is that it doesn’t give you enough of a reason to care about it. Its disappointing, given that there’s a lot of talent involved in the film, and its obvious that Fogel has all the pieces here for a very good film. Even with all the pieces there, it never feels like all of them come together in the right way. Every scene is either a little too long, or missing some critical aspect that would keep the viewer hooked. It’s not that anything in The Spy Who Dumped Me is necessarily terrible, but the fact that it feels mediocre throughout its entire runtime adds to the disappointment.
All in all, you will probably still enjoy yourself if you go see The Spy Who Dumped Me this weekend. It’s crude, mostly funny, and entertaining enough. Regardless of its flaws, Susanna Fogel’s film, thanks to Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, is still engaging for the most part. There are really no surprises in terms of the story, but there are just enough laughs and shootouts to keep the audience interested. The real problem with the film stems from what it could’ve been: it had the potential and the pieces to be something more, and instead, it ends up feeling disappointingly mediocre.