Film: I Spy . . .

. . . a forgettable spy comedy

There’s nothing wrong with a female buddy movie; it’s just that this one with Mila Kunis, left, and Kate McKinnon is no good.

With the Honoré de Balzac/ball-sack joke that includes an actual ball sack dangled on the camera, and with one poop joke every 10 minutes, the script of The Spy Who Dumped Me has certain tonal problems.

Director and co-scriptwriter Susanna Fogel uses unusually harsh violence and crudeness that seems to be a reach-out to the male audience who might not go see a female buddy movie. It’s like the diarrhea sequence in Bridesmaids, material insisted on by the male producers.

Audrey (Mila Kunas) is ditched via text by her boyfriend, Drew, right before her birthday. Her BFF, would-be actress Morgan (Kate McKinnon), coaxes Audrey into having a bonfire of the possessions Drew left behind—everything from his used underwear to his second-place fantasy football league trophy, the film’s MacGuffin.

Audrey’s hostile texts bring Drew (Justin Theroux) back to L.A. from the field, where he’d been chased by assassins. Gunmen catch up with him, and at Drew’s dying request, Audrey and Morgan drop everything and take the trophy from LAX to Vienna, with some interference by the MI6 agent Sebastian (male-modelish Sam Heughan) and his complaining partner (Hasan Minhaj).

McKinnon’s great work on SNL doesn’t spare her from having to search for a way to play Morgan. She has keen off-kilter lines every now and then, like her story of how she’d failed an audition playing a Ukrainian farmer in a Geico ad because “I was too authentic.” McKinnon’s quite a weirdette, executing a big Three Musketeers–style bow complete with a whirl of her hand. When she goes for a disguise, she picks a very bad one—a Cockney taxi driver.

As for Kunis, of the heavy eyelids and heavier scowl—she’s a little much. Gowned up for the final, glamorous part of the assignment, she looks formidable, but Kunis is not an actress who seems patient enough or light enough for comedy.

The Spy Who Dumped Me isn’t aiming for depth, but there are one too many room-clearing fight scenes, like the one in Vienna where someone gets his face pushed into a boiling cauldron of soup. Compared to 2015’s Spy, which did such a sterling job of satirizing the newer Bonds, this comedy plays as if there were too many cooks, and other times like there wasn’t enough cooking.

‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ is playing in wide release in the North Bay.


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