I’m not sure whether we should be pitying Kate McKinnon or berating her for what has turned out to be a fairly disastrous string of movies, including the ill-advised Ghostbusters reboot, Masterminds, Office Christmas Party, and Rough Night. Not a single one of them is worth recommending, and though The Spy Who Dumped Me isn’t quite as terrible as any or all of those, it once again provides audiences with an opportunity to slap their collective foreheads and wonder what might have been.
McKinnon plays Morgan Freeman (ha!), the kooky best friend of Mila Kunis’ Audrey. While Audrey is contemplating a break-up with her elusive boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux), she discovers that he is, in fact, a spy. And then she watches as assassins execute him right in front of her. She’s left only with his dying instructions—deliver a flash drive safely to his contact at a cafe in Vienna. Though Audrey balks, Morgan is more than happy to talk her friend into a little international intrigue.
Before long, the pair find themselves neck-deep in the spy game—chased by bad guys, getting into shootouts, and killing would-be assassins themselves. Not only is the CIA on their tail, Eastern Europe’s finest hitmen are, too, including cold-blooded ex-gymnast Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno). And since Drew’s last words were, “Trust no one”, we have no idea who’s on what side. And, alas, it’s hard to care.
The script, co-written by director Susanna Fogel and TV vet David Iserson, is a bi-polar mess, flopping back and forth between Jason Bourne-like violence and goofball comedy (which gets even more zany whenever McKinnon has a chance to shine, which isn’t nearly enough). And for those who say you can’t make this kind of movie successfully, they need look no further than Paul Feig’s 2015 riotous Melissa McCarthy flick Spy and recall the opening scene, in which Jude Law accidentally kills an arms dealer because of an ill-timed (and particularly convulsive) sneeze. Instead, The Spy Who Dumped Me gives us Morgan berating Audrey for using a turn signal during a car chase.
Were McKinnon not a part of the festivities—infusing the lack-luster script with a bit of a pulse—the film could easily be considered one of the more misguided ones to hit theaters so far this year. It’s an oddball flick that seems like little more than an attempt on Fogel’s part to let her buddy McKinnon prove she’s just as funny when she’s not aping Jeff Sessions on Saturday Night Live.
I’m sure McKinnon is, but this scattershot misfire doesn’t help her case very much. And Kunis, who seems to be relegated to playing-it-straight status lately, fares even worse. Someday these women will be offered something worthy of their talents, but in the meantime we can only dream. Or slap our collective foreheads. Either way.