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‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ review: A Kate McKinnon show all the way

Somewhere in this hodgepodge of a film, Kate McKinnon steals a quiet moment. During an accidental undercover mission in Europe with her best friend Audrey (Mila Kunis), she confides in her, revealing her insecurities of being a ‘little too much’, but in that realisation lies McKinnon’s strong suit as a comedian and an actor: her ability to be self-aware but not self-conscious. In knowing that, she dives head first into the most ludicrous situations, delivering one-liners like a machine gun, not bothering about how well they land.

Doe-eyed Kunis is the ‘me’ in The Spy Who Dumped Me, who receives a break-up text from her boyfriend. She and her sidekick McKinnon get pulled into the mission when they learn of his hidden spy identity but the driving force (and the film’s title) is the break-up. It may, at first, sound like an atavistic narrative, centred around a woman’s unrelenting desire for a man and closure, but filmmaker Susanna Fogel cashes in on the feminine energy bubbling in the film to create insightful humour on female friendships. The jokes that work find its genesis in how intimately the two best friends know each other.

The Spy Who Dumped Me
  • Director: Susanna Fogel
  • Cast: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Hasan Minhaj, Gillian Anderson
  • Story line: Two unsuspecting friends travel to Europe to fulfil an uncover mission

During a hysterical car chase in Vienna, as assassins fall dead by the dozen, McKinnon rebukes Kunis, who is driving an out of control Uber, “Why are you flashing the turn signal? You’re literally telling them where we are going!” As the two friends travel around Europe, they take digs at the pretentiousness of Vienna, the hostel culture of Amsterdam, frivolousness of Americans, the Parisian sense of fashion and misogynistic conservatism of East Europeans. It’s the observational humour and real-life exchanges, set against the chaotic background of an action thriller, what makes this film funny.

Spy is at its wittiest when the two friends are trying to make sense of the situation they are in. Unfortunately, once they get a grip of it in the second half, the film slips into a strange, confused mélange of action, thriller and comedy, doing little justice to either of the genres.

The most unexpected aspect of this film, though, is all the violence and point-blank shootings, which one wouldn’t typically associate with an otherwise frothy film. Shock value arising from these moments adds an added layer of dark comedy, and that’s fundamentally where the problem lies – the film’s inability to commit to one genre.


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Printable version | Nov 25, 2021 12:15:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-spy-who-dumped-me-review-a-kate-mckinnon-show-all-the-way/article24660768.ece

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