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"THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME"
(2018) (Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy/Action: Two best friends suddenly find themselves thrust into a dangerous, international spy game.
PLOT:
Audrey (MILA KUNIS) and Morgan (KATE McKINNON) have been best friends for years and thus have gone through thick and thin together. It's the latter that's occurring now as Audrey's boyfriend of the past year, Drew (JUSTIN THEROUX), has just dumped her via a text message. With it being Audrey's birthday, Morgan has taken her out for the evening to drown her sorrows.

Little do they know that Drew is actually a CIA spy who's managed to survive attempts on his life overseas to return to Los Angeles to try to tell Audrey what's happening. But before he can, there's another attack and he ends up seemingly killed, but not before imparting directions for Audrey to deliver a package -- in the shape of a trophy -- to his contact in Vienna.

Knowing nothing more than that, she and Morgan fly there where Audrey is eventually nabbed by MI6 agents Sebastian (SAM HEUGHAN) and Duffer (HASAN MINHAJ) who want that package. Not knowing if they're on her side or not, she eventually and purposefully gives Sebastian a lookalike trophy.

But a deadly shootout follows and when Russian assassin Nadedja (IVANNA SAKHNO) shows up desiring the same thing, the two women realize they're in a dangerous international spy game where both their lives and those of many others hang in the balance.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Much like beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, comedy firmly resides in the funny bone of those where intended comedy is present. Just as I may not find someone attractive who another person views as beautiful, I might find someone funny who others view as akin to nails down the chalkboard.

Thus when such a comedian does his or her usual shtick (or some slight variation thereof), one is likely to have a similar reaction toward them as well as the project in which they appear, be that a TV show or movie. Just like a good friend of mine can't stand Jim Carrey, I find most (but not all) of the comedic work of Kate McKinnon just as grating.

Yes, I realize she's quite popular among fans of "Saturday Night Live" (where I did find her "Chicago" based send-up of Kellyanne Conway brilliant) and has appeared in some high profile comedies including the remake of "Ghostbusters." But there's just something about her highly affected performances and the manic "I could snap and kill you at any moment" gaze in her eyes that does nothing for me.

With those qualities arriving in full force in the action-comedy "The Spy Who Dumped Me" (named, one assumes, after the Roger Moore 007 flick "The Spy Who Loved Me") I just didn't like the film. Granted, it's clearly not only McKinnon's performance that sinks the flick, as it's a bungled and not particularly imaginative mishmash of elements from those two genres that does the damage.

On one hand, it's a hard-hitting and brutal action flick with plenty of mayhem and deaths, like something you might see in a Jason Statham international spy flick. Here, Justin Theroux plays a CIA hitman who's constantly having to contend with and kill lots of bad people while trying to get a certain package to a contact, while other spies (including Sam Heughan and Hasan Minhaj as a MI6 duo) and villains (such as Ivanna Sakhno playing a Russian gymnast turned steely yet still limber assassin) are after the same thing.

Thrown into that mix -- slightly akin to Melissa McCarthy's character in "Spy" (paired with, yes, Mr. Statham) -- are two best friends (Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis) who learn one's boyfriend (Theroux) is really a spy and, on his apparent line of work "deathbed" and despite having just dumped her via text message, asks her to deliver the package in Vienna or else, well, you know, bad things will happen to innocent people.

Before you know it, the two ladies are Austria-bound and their non-realistic reactions to the events at hand along with their chemistry together are supposed to generate the humor (and offset the harder action).

Alas, I never found it more than sporadically amusing at best and not particularly creative with the premise (not to mention wasting the talents of Paul Reiser and Jane Curtin as one of the women's parents back home). And when you have to resort to not one but several separate bits revolving around diarrhea and vomiting for hopeful laughs, it's easy to tell one is grasping for comedy straws and that's certainly the case for the cast as well as writer/director Susanna Fogel and co-scribe David Iserson here.

And if, like yours truly, you find McKinnon's highly affected performance tics and antics more grating than funny, you might just find yourself hoping for Richard Kiel's Jaws character from the aforementioned Bond flick to show up and take a bite out of this flick to put it and us out of our collective misery. "The Spy Who Dumped Me" rates as a 3.5 out of 10.




Reviewed July 27, 2018 / Posted August 3, 2018


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