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Spy Who Dumped Me, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Female Bond-ing"
4 stars

At this point in a typical summer movie release season, pretty much all of the expected big guns have already been deployed and the titles that remain are either dregs that might have otherwise sunk without a trace had they gone up against the bigger titles or quirkier efforts hoping to take advantage of audience fatigue towards the blockbusters that they have already seen. Many of these films tend to be kind of dreadful but every once in a while, a refreshingly oddball movie comes around to help liven up the dog days at the multiplex. The new action comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” doesn’t quite reach those lofty heights but for all of its flaws—and there are a lot of them—it does possess a certain shambolic charm and a number of big laughs and while I admit that trying to recall much of it was a bit of a struggle the morning after the screening, I must also admit that I had a better time than I frankly expected while watching it.

Mila Kunis stars as Audrey, a 30-year-old whose life has never quite kicked fully into gear—unable to bring herself to actually finish anything she starts, she now spends her days working a dead-end job as a cashier and her nights hanging out with her best and possibly only friend, wacko actress Morgan (Kate McKinnon). As the story opens, Audrey is still moping over the fact that her boyfriend, Drew (Justin Theroux), just took off on her without a word and won’t even return her incessant texts. What she doesn’t know, but which we do (if only because we know the title of the film) is that Drew is actually a CIA operative and that he has a key piece of information stashed away in a box of stuff that he left behind at her apartment. Drew returns to Audrey but he is quickly gunned down and she, accompanied by Audrey, decides to jet off to Vienna in order to complete his mission. This leads to the two flailing about Europe as they butt heads with such characters as a hunky spy (Sam Heughan) who may or may not be on their side, a deadly gymnast/assassin (Ivanna Sakhno) who definitely isn’t and bumble through the usual array of car chases, double crosses, shootouts, explosions and torture sessions.

Comedies involving ordinary dopes getting caught up in the intricacies of spy craft and discovering that they have a previously unsuspected knack for espionage are nothing new, of course, but in most of those cases, they made no bones about being comedies first and foremost and kept the action and spy craft to an absolute minimum or approached it from a suitably silly perspective. In an odd decision, director Susanna Fogel (who also co-wrote the screenplay with David Iserson) has elected to utilize the same overscaled approach to the action sequences that one might normally find in the Jason Bourne films—building explode, people are mowed down with bullets or cars every step of the way and when our heroes get punched in the face by someone trying to get information out of them, they come away from it bleeding. I get the idea behind this approach, I suppose, but the results are sometimes a bit jarring, especially when the bodies start stacking up. At one point, for example, there is some business involving a phone belonging to a dead guy that requires a thumbprint to activate—after some back and forth, we are treated to the sight of the thumb being sawed off in order to make things a little more convenient. To be fair, this bit does have an amusing payoff but did we really need to see the entire digit removal?

It takes a while for “The Spy Who Dumped Me” to find its groove in balancing the comedy and action and even when it does, it never quite finds the right tone to embrace its extremes. However, once it does settle down (and be warned that the first 20 minutes or so are kind of rough), it starts hitting its targets more often than one might expect. McKinnon, in particular, almost single-handedly saves large portions of the film with her efforts. Arguably the MVP of the current “SNL” cast, she manages to find a way to channel the weirdo energy of her small screen efforts into a character that does not wear out its welcome over time—in many cases, the laughs she inspires comes not from the jokes themselves but from her off-kilter delivery. It is one thing to have a character deliver strange lines—it is another to create a character from whom such declarations make perfect sense and that is what she achieves here. She also gets a worthy comedic partner-in-crime in Kunis, whose more low-key demeanor meshes nicely with McKinnon’s epic weirdness. I’m not saying that the two are the next Hope & Crosby or even the next Hoffman & Beatty but if someone were to team them up again for another comedy, I would not be opposed to that in the slightest.

“The Spy Who Dumped Me” is no classic by any means—it may not even be the best combination of comedy, action and espionage at the multiplex right now (depending on whether you count “Mission: Impossible—Fallout” or not)—and the cranked-up level of violence may be startling to some viewers expecting the carnage to be more overtly cartoonish in nature. Nevertheless, I found myself laughing a lot during the film and even when it does it some dead moments here and there (such as a climax that somehow manages to be both overly frantic and oddly uneventful), there is always a couple of good one-liners lurking just around the corner to make you forget the lesser moments. This is a film that doesn’t really have anything else on its mind other than providing viewers with two hours (which admittedly could have been shortened a bit) of alternately goofy and grisly escapism and in regards to those admittedly modest goals, it is a success.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=31278&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/02/18 22:38:15
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User Comments

8/31/18 Louise Whats "bum-off" ?, i`ve never heard that phrase before. 1 stars
8/10/18 Bob Dog Not as funny as I'd hoped, but solid as a straight spy thriller. 4 stars
8/05/18 the giver of the law I want to bum-off Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. 5 stars
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  03-Aug-2018 (R)
  DVD: 30-Oct-2018


  DVD: 30-Oct-2018

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