by Patrick Bromley
Here are some things I like: action comedies, buddy movies, over the top violence, Hard-R movies, Kate McKinnon. Here are some things I don't really like: The Spy Who Dumped Me.
I tried. I really tried. I wanted to like it. And the movie is not without value: the action is pretty well staged and has a sense of energy, the actors appear to be having a good time, and there were a handful of moments that genuinely made me laugh. But there were four times as many moments that frustrated me with how much they miss the mark and both actors feel miscast -- not for the roles that they're playing (they're fine), but because they have such completely different approaches. Mila Kunis keeps getting cast in comedic roles despite not being especially funny, for which co-star McKinnon feels the need to compensate by refusing to ever come down to Earth. All of her choices create an ironic distance between her character and everything taking place in the movie and it's really too bad.
I was a big fan of co-writer/director Susanna Fogel's debut feature Life Partners, which was a quiet and honest examination of female friendship. Seeing her graduate to a much larger scale and a bigger budget is interesting, because she's clearly trying to transplant some of those same ideas over to the framework of an expensive studio action comedy. Occasionally, some of it slips through, like in a funny scene in which the women reveal just how much they know about one another or in Kate McKinnon's one honest moment where she's visibly wounded by a character telling her she's a "bit much." For the most part, though, the script (by Fogel and David Iserson) is too busy dumping on plot and having the characters react to stuff to really devote any energy to characterization. It leaves McKinnon all kinds of room to invent a character that's not necessarily on the page, and it sometimes derails the movie. It's what she did in Ghostbusters, but in that movie I thought it worked: she was just some extra color, one weird thing in a movie that was (supposed to be) full of weird things. As one of the co-leads of The Spy Who Dumped Me, the mugging is a problem.