The Spy Who Dumped Me struggles to balance its uneven parts

Mila Kunis as “Aubrey” and Kate McKinnon as “Morgan” in a scene from The Spy Who Dumped Me. Hopper Stone, SMPSP, Lionsgate Entertainment


Vicky Sparks

Audrey (Mila Kunis) is a thirty-something grocery store cashier. Her best friend and roommate Morgan (Kate McKinnon) is an aspiring actress. You’d be hard pressed to say either of them were thriving.

When Audrey’s boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) breaks up with her via text message, Morgan cheers her up by lighting his belongings on fire.

These two may not have a lot going on in their lives but they have each other and that turns out to matter more than anything.

It seems jerk ex-boyfriend Drew was actually a spy instead of a guy with a podcast that mixed jazz and economics, and when he comes crashing back into Audrey’s life with assassins hot on his tail, he begs her to get a secret flash drive to Vienna to stop a worldwide terrorist attack.

Who could refuse such a request? Off Audrey and Morgan go to Europe to try and stop the attack.

Along the way they’re helped and hurt by actual spies (Sam Heughan and Hassan Minaj) trying to take over their mission. When they put their video game knowledge to use in real life they find out they’re more capable than they knew.

Action and comedy is a popular combo, but it’s a tough mix to pull off. This film attempts to mix highbrow humour (jokes about Balzac and Dostoyevsky), slap stick comedy and gross out jokes with action sequences that are super serious and violent (I’d guess they meant them to be over-the-top Tarentino level ultra violence for comedic effect, but they don’t get there and end up just being realistically super violent scenes).

That’s a lot to balance, and it definitely doesn’t strike an ideal split. But more of the material works than doesn’t, and the producers have Kate McKinnon to thank for it.

McKinnon is the latest breakout star from Saturday Night Live and she puts her offbeat, zany, goofy humour to the test.

From funny reaction shots to a clunky trapeze fight scene to one-liners you’ll want to write down for use in real life, McKinnon commits 300%.

Kunis isn’t bad – she can be funny but she rightfully acknowledges McKinnon plays in a different league and smartly doesn’t try to compete.

This isn’t a buddy comedy where opposite snipe at each other for 110 minutes. These BFFs are both nuts and their bond and friendship is the second factor that saves this film from being a full flop.

The Spy Who Dumped Me knows its audience – it’s a female-centred story with female-centred jokes with Sam Heughan as the cherry on top.

So grab your best girlfriends, have a life and start planning your next career as super spies.

 

Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia