Name a big budget Hollywood comedy that is written or co-written by a woman, directed by a woman, and stars 2 women. The Spy Who Dumped Me is the first one I can think of that matches this description. It is directed by Susanna Fogel, co-written by Fogel (with David Iserson) and stars Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. It cost $40 million to make, was produced by mega-producer Brian Grazer, and was released in 3,111 theatres on August 3. It is considered a major motion picture, so, by that fact alone, I celebrate it with gusto. There has been a spotlight recently on the fact that there are way too few movies directed by women, let alone written and directed by women, and even rarer to star women. So, yes, I am happy The Spy Who Dumped Me even got made.
So here’s my conundrum. Just because I root for something and am happy it exists doesn’t mean I have to be blinded to its quality, or lack thereof. Goodness knows there have been thousands of movies directed by men that stink, I guess the ultimate level playing field is one where women can also direct bombs—and that doesn’t hold them back. I’m definitely not saying that just because a woman made a movie about women that it’s automatically going to be good. I just want to make sure the opportunity is there. And so, because I believe in equal rights to make a crappy movie, I need to tell you how truly stinktastic The Spy Who Dumped Me really is.
On paper, this movie looks like a home run. It stars two comic geniuses in Mila Kunis (Bad Moms, Ted, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Family Guy, That ‘70s Show) and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters). The premise of the movie sounds so much fun, albeit unoriginal: two women find themselves caught up in an international conspiracy when they discover that one of their ex boyfriends is a spy. They find themselves getting shot at, chased and forced to travel to European destinations to save themselves and to unwittingly save the world from the bad guys. This could be comic gold in the hands of Kunis and McKinnon, two actresses who have more than proven their ability to navigate a clever script. And therein lies the problem. The Spy Who Dumped Me should be held up as an example in every screenwriting class that ever existed of how important a good script really is—and how a bad one can absolutely kill any movie. If Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon can’t make a SINGLE THING in the entire movie funny, maybe it’s not them. Maybe, just maybe, this is one of the worst scripts that ever existed.
I really don’t feel like going into detail on this. The movie was painful enough, don’t ask me to re-live it. Let me just suffice it to say this: this movie is not funny. This movie makes no sense. And, to top it off, McKinnon and Kunis actually have zero chemistry as screen buddies. I am shocked to say that, but it’s true. I have suffered through bad scripts before where the movie was saved at least by two charming performances by actors who worked well together. Not so here. Nothing about this movie works. Even the supporting performances are wooden and unintelligible.
Do I have anything good to say about The Spy Who Dumped Me? Well, it has a lot of scenes in Vienna, Prague and Berlin, so I applaud the second unit director, who gave us some nice establishing shots of those cities, so at least I had something nice to look at. Because once we got back to the story (which was also massively confusing and, ultimately, pointless), the silly action sequences and the catatonic dialogue, it was back to the unfunny, uncharming and unnecessary film that it is.
But still, movies like this, in the end, ARE necessary. Women need to bomb just as equally as the men. Now THAT’S equality.