22nd August 2018 (UK)
Audrey and Morgan are best friends who unwittingly become entangled in an international conspiracy when one of the women discovers the boyfriend who dumped her was actually a spy.
Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Blanka Györfi-Tóth, Vilma Szécsi
There have been a sprinkling of spy spoof movies in the past few years with the likes of the Kingsman series, the Melissa McCarthy vehicle Spy and Central Intelligence staring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson all being released since 2014. Whether good or bad, it’s fair to say that these films successfully focused on something: stylish action, a buddy relationship or otherwise.
The latest addition to this subgenre, Susanna Fogel’s humourless The Spy Who Dumped Me, attempts to juggle what feels like a dozen different styles, only making a fool out of itself in the process due to being unable to hold on to one.
The title itself basically explains the plot. Audrey (Mila Kunis) and her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) become entangled in a web of international espionage after her boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) dumps her and reveals that he is actually a spy. There’s enough comic potential here for an enjoyable ride, we’ve seen many of these “fish out of water” comedies before after all, but tonally TSWDM is so off the mark you need a Hubble telescope to see it.
For example, I was surprised to see how nasty and needlessly violent the film was. Many supporting characters who are only played for laughs get gruesomely killed off, and not in the hilariously over the top way you’d see in something like Edgar Wright’s gleefully gory Hot Fuzz. It’s more in like with the poe-faced, super serious Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning crime drama No Country For Old Men. Some fellow cinema goers genuinely gasped when it happened, any laughter swiftly cut short due to the drastic change in tone.
This conflicted style is the only thing consistent throughout, leading to an interrogation scene cracking jokes one minute, before beating up the lead characters with a straight face then switching back to jokes again. It’s a confusing mess that made me doubt my own sanity. I had no clue what was supposed to be funny and what was supposed to be dramatic, but worst of all I don’t think anyone involved in the film did either.
There is no better evidence of this than in the post-credits scenes (yes there’s more than one), which are so blatantly unfunny, so utterly pointless, that whoever put them there needs their head examined. I actually have no clue what they were trying to be. My only guess would be world building; World building in TSWDM. Now that’s funny.
I actually found my attention wandering so much that I began chuckling at someone in front of me laughing in an unapologetic booming way at almost everything that was said. Desperate times, eh? Whoever you were I thank you, because you were much more entertaining than the moving pictures onscreen. Although I do wish I had even half as much fun as you clearly did, as I would be hailing TSWDM as the best comedy of the year, instead of the worst.
I will give credit where it’s due, however, and some of the action scenes were nicely staged and well executed. They would have worked brilliantly in fact, if the tone wasn’t so obviously convoluted. For the sake of fairness, some other positives include passable performances from the lead actresses Kunis and McKinnon and there may have been a handful of throwaway witty lines, but that’s legitimately all I can scrape up out of the barrel to praise this film. It’s a real stinker, and at 2 whole hours, it’s a overlong, labouring stinker that won’t even have the decency to be soon forgotten.
It’s that bad.
Well executed action scenes
Able leads in Kunis and McKinnon
Unable to decide on tone and style
Majority of the jokes are flat