Director: Susanna Fogel
Screenplay: Susanna Fogel, David Iserson
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Gillian Anderson
Runtime: 117 Minutes
The ability to craft a decent film out of the action comedy sub-genre is an admittedly tricky balance to get right. Go too far one way or the other and you're lacking in an adequate combination that'll satisfy audiences. It's something that works best when applied to the framework of a buddy comedy, but The Spy Who Dumped Me - which pairs Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon as BFFs thrown into an espionage spy story after Kunis' boyfriend (Justin Theroux) turns out to be a CIA agent - doesn't really hold up very well on either end.
It's a middling distraction of a film that doesn't seem to have any identifiable identity of its own beyond a riffing title and European setting. It's not leaning into an odd couple pairing, or a road trip movie, or a vulgar or gross-out comedy to amplify its rating. Instead it just kind of settles for an incredibly average and generic outing that just kind of stops once they arrive in Venice, and doesn't even pack enough jokes to sustain the ride beyond the apparent novelty of the protagonists to this spy caper being two young and ditsy American women.
What does help is that Kunis and McKinnon both try their hardest to elevate the empty screenplay through their natural onscreen chemistry. McKinnon is kind of the master at making otherwise inane dialogue and flat jokes at least sound funny purely through her go for broke method of delivery. Keeping the empty banter moving at a pace even as the plot is practically dragging its way across its overlong runtime.
But it's never enough to sustain it completely, and sadly, the screenplay co-written by director Susanna Fogel just doesn't make the most of its premise. Instead, spending far too much time on scenes designed to distract from the fact that its plot is so thin instead of making something more of it, or even exemplifying the unimportance of the McGuffin when compared to the characters of its themes (neither of which it's really able to sustain).
Her director doesn't help either. Working with a structure that staggers itself a little incoherently with scenes playing out flatly with little visual flourish, and the action scenes don't leave any impact in regard to tension or comedy despite the initially interesting setup scenes with Theroux.
The Spy Who Dumped Me is a sad, empty and flavourless mess that won't even allow its leads to elevate it beyond its stale mound and weakly held storytelling. Neither funny or exciting enough to fulfil either of its needs.