The Spy Who Dumped Me
The film feels too long, running just under two hours. It has too many asides, and the bad guys never really get anything juicy to do. Yet despite these flaws, The Spy Who Dumped Me offers some genuine delight as well, fueled entirely by the supreme charms of stars Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon.
Written and directed by Susanna Fogel (with script help by SNL alum David Iserson), the comedy is effervescent as Kunis and McKinnon kibbitz about friendship and the travails of dating absent men, even if their absence can be explained due to factors involving international terror rings, acrobatic assassins and CIA hit squads.
Aping the likes of North by Northwest where the unsuspecting individual is thrust into a situation far beyond their training, what’s most clever about the script is how it allows the two amateurs to succeed in ways almost in keeping with reality. Between some video game training and oodles of self-delusion and moxie, the two manage to outwit the professionals out to get them in ways that are both hilarious and satisfying.
Justin Theroux, Hasan Ninhaj, Sam Heughan, and a wonderfully creepy Ivanna Sakhno add to the ensemble as the jet-setting tale borrows from the tropes of James Bond or Ethan Hunt’s adventures and gives it a sardonic twist.
The scope of the action is nowhere near other summer blockbusters this season, but the repartee makes up for the lack of city block-wide explosions. McKinnon is a comedic treasure, and her wily weirdness is fully on display here. She’s not just the kooky sidekick this time, but a fully realized character in her own right. Adding in Paul Reiser and Jane Curtain as her parents is another treat. Their awkward exchanges are perfectly in keeping with the tone of the film.
Kunis, meanwhile, manages to be both assured and vulnerable. Her charms draw us into the film, and if McKinnon’s more overt brashness takes a bunch of the attention, Kunis’ astute performance makes her both the perfect “straight man” but also the believable leader of the two.
This is a high concept comedy that easily could feel like a five-minute TV skit stretched to feature length, but thanks to these terrific leads there’s plenty to enjoy. The movie has echoes of Melissa McCarthy’s Spy in terms of its gender swap, but where that film couched in pratfalls and slapstick, this is a far more droll piece, trading body humor and darkly sarcastic asides with equal measure.
You may see bigger and bolder action films this summer, but thanks to Kunis and McKinnon, you may not find a better buddy film this year. Both actress are deserving of superstardom, even if both are far too delightfully unconventional to achieve that status. With this film, both are given a terrific vehicle, a movie of large scope that enables them to shine.
While The Spy Who Dumped Me is far from perfect, the casting of Kunis and McKinnon is flawless. The two alone are reason enough to plunk down some coin to see them shine together.