‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ fails to equal sum of its faulty parts

James Preston Poole

Hollywood has tried relentlessly to find a starring vehicle for Kate McKinnon for the past few years, and it seems like they’ll have to
keep looking.

Following high-profile flops such as the underrated “Ghostbusters” and the dull “Office Christmas Party,” “The Spy Who Dumped Me” attempts to combine the oddball comedy McKinnon absolutely kills with on “Saturday Night Live” with high-octane action. The mixture is anything but smooth, despite a few enjoyable moments.

“The Spy Who Dumped Me” follows Audrey (Mila Kunis) and her best friend Morgan (McKinnon). Morgan is trying to help Audrey get over a rough breakup, but when the two discover that Audrey’s ex (Justin Theroux) is a CIA agent who left an internationally valued item with Audrey, the two get swept up in an international conspiracy they’re nowhere near equipped to handle. Hilarity ensues, or at least it’s
supposed to.

If there’s one thing that can be said for this movie, it’s that all of the performers are trying. Kunis makes for a decent protagonist, earning a few laughs and spouting a cool one-liner or two, while Theroux is in full action hero mode. McKinnon especially tries really hard to sell the character of Morgan, giving full commitment to every gag, but the script does her no favors.

The screenplay, co-written by director Susanna Fogel and David Iserson, makes Morgan out to be as unlikable as possible. She’s constantly interfering in Audrey’s personal life, gets the two into trouble frequently and is just, overall, an obnoxious character who has no trait to really latch onto. The same goes for the film as a whole.

Everything in this movie feels half-realized, starting with the relationship drama. Despite being written and directed by a woman, this film finds little actual definition for Kunis’ character beyond her feeling bad about her breakup, while McKinnon’s character is focused purely around helping her get over the breakup.

Then there’s the comedy. Truth be told, this film does muster up a few genuine laughs, but the majority of the gags fall into one of three categories: gross-out humor, talking about reproductive organs or both. It feels incredibly sophomoric and represents the worst of what modern comedy films have to offer.

Surprisingly, the action in this film isn’t half bad. Fogel stages these scenes with a bone-crunching nature that gives the scenes, such as an opening chase in a marketplace, a visceral feeling. If this was a pure action movie starring Kunis and McKinnon, then it might have actually worked.

Unfortunately, it’s not a pure action movie. Instead, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of a film, where the disparate parts don’t come together to make a satisfying whole. There’s severe tonal whiplash as the film goes between hyper-violent action, romantic drama and comedy in seconds. The worst offender is a third act centered around a circus performance that’s almost exhausting to watch, as it attempts to juggle way too much.

Maybe there’s an audience for “The Spy Who Dumped Me.” It certainly tries to entertain, but instead this is just another mediocre action-comedy that’s likely to be forgotten about in a week or so. Kate McKinnon deserves so much better, as does the rest of the cast and crew.

  • “The Spy Who Dumped Me”
  • Runtime: 117 minutes
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Score: 2/5