The Spy Who Dumped Me: A Case of Mistaken Marketing

Release Date: August 3, 2018
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan, Gillian Anderson
Director: Susanna Fogel
Studio: Imagine Entertainment; Lionsgate
Distributor: Lionsgate
IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes | Wikipedia

Spoilers: Low

Rating:

When I walked out of the theater, my boyfriend said something that made so much sense the more I thought about it: this movie should not have been rated R.

The Spy Who Dumped Me is advertised as an action comedy. After a jet-setting super-spy breaks up with Mila Kunis’ character via text message, she and her best friend (Kate McKinnon) find themselves playing action heroes, caught in the middle of a global intelligence fight for a valuable thumb drive.

The first half of the movie runs sluggish. The writing feels lifeless. Tilted heavily toward action, the entire theater was silent when Kate or Mila cracked a joke. It wasn’t until we picked up some momentum in the second half of the movie that the comedy finally clicked into place. Suddenly, the recurring gags felt funny — the action and comedy balanced, and both sides of the Force existed harmoniously.

I actually expected more comedy and less action, but once the movie struck the balance, it satisfied overall. Neither lead particularly glows, but both deliver acceptable performances. McKinnon isn’t given a lot of good dialogue to work with, so she ends up shining less on the silver screen than she does weekly on SNL. Kunis, playing the bewildered ingenue, has her star moments, but her character never feels fleshed out and ultimately gets lost in the action as well.

The Spy Who Dumped Me is a perfectly acceptable, enjoyable movie. It’s about 30 minutes too long and takes a while to hit full tilt. 

Side note: movies need to be shorter. Comedies need to be under an hour forty minutes period. I should not need a bladder of steel to see a film in theaters. This is the hill I die on. I’m also looking at you, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

I don’t think this perfectly acceptable film is going to be a box office success. Why? Because it’s rated R. Everything about this movie screams PG-13. That’s where this movie lives. It’s got two PG-13 friendly leads, a wacky funny-women-turned-superspies storyline, and a heap of comedic innuendo.

In other words: nothing here requires an R rating. Sacrifice a few f-bombs in the dialogue and the fight scenes with dramatic blood sprays and market it to the teens. It’s not edgy enough to market its R rating to the R crowd, and it also turns off audiences who want to see a family-friendly comedy.

Overall, The Spy Who Dumped Me is fun and funny, but I don’t think it’ll be a box office hit.