I had hopes that The Spy Who Dumped Me would excel in the comedic aspects of the film, as the trailers looked entertaining enough. As is common with late summer comedies, the funniest parts of the film were in the trailer. The plot frequently feels like it is missing some pieces, and much of the humor falls flat. The movie has some redeeming qualities – including some decent action sequences led by Justin Theroux and Sam Heughan – but ultimately left me bored.
The Spy Who Dumped Me had some solid moments, but because of overuse in the marketing they were weakened them for me
Audrey (Mila Kunis) is feeling a little depressed after being dumped by her boyfriend, Drew (Justin Theroux), via text message. Her best friend, Morgan (Kate McKinnon), is trying to make her feel better by sending Drew a text from Audrey’s phone, saying that their burning his things he left behind. This prompts Drew to call her, because he’s left something important from his work that he needs back…but she doesn’t know he’s actually a spy.
I’ves become painfully aware that I don’t like improvised dialogue comedy in my films much. At the very least, there are scenes that feel like an actor – in this case, Kate McKinnon – was given leeway to just “run with it”, and the director – Susanna Fogel, this time – seems to eat it up. These moments often feel like they desperately want to be funny, but they usually leave me yawning. Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson are also known to get this kind of comedic freedom, and, much like how I feel with McKinnon in this film, it rarely works for my comedic tastes. It always feels like they are trying too hard, rather than having a breakthrough comedic performance.
Kunis is likable enough in the film, and plays the accidental action hero well. The chemistry between her and McKinnon seems genuine enough, though at times we’re just told how good of friends they are. However, many of the truly funny moments come from the interaction between the two of them. For example, there is a car chase sequence (shown in the trailer) that has some great comedic moments in it. Kunis takes the lead, and predominantly sells her natural talent at this spy game with the film cutting to McKinnon’s commentary on the action itself.
The relationship between Audrey and Drew gets a flashback story used multiple times throughout the film. By the end, it seems like an odd choice to spend so much time with their backstory, as it never really pays off in a meaningful way. There is even another character we find out was surprisingly involved with their initial meeting…but that story never gets developed past this reveal. It’s possible that Fogel and co-writer David Iserson had much of their story cut for time, but the final product has many threads that feel disconnected.
In the end, The Spy Who Dumped Me had some potential to be funny and full of decent action. Instead, most of the humor is lacking, and the action isn’t all that great. Not to say there aren’t some cool moments in the film, but it just wasn’t enough to make it a standout. Unfortunately, The Spy Who Dumped Me earns the Not a Total Waste of Time rating.