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Spy Who Dumped Me, The

Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // October 30, 2018
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Tyler Foster | posted October 30, 2018 | E-mail the Author
For her 30th birthday, Audrey (Mila Kunis) has gotten an unfortunate gift from her boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux): a sudden text-message break-up. Audrey's bestie Morgan (Kate McKinnon) does her best to cheer Audrey up, which works well enough until it turns out Drew has a second surprise for her, a visit from an MI-6 agent named Sebastian (Sam Heughan) and his partner Duffer (Hasan Minaj), who reveal that Drew was not only a CIA agent, but he may have gone rogue. Audrey is barely done processing this information before Drew reappears, and passes on a mission before being killed by an assassin: take what looks like plastic football trophy to a cafe in Europe and give it to a secret contact, or millions of innocent people might die. With Morgan by her side for moral support, Audrey finds herself on a globe-trotting, action-packed, danger-filled mission with the mysterious Sebastian on their tail.

Co-writer/director Susanna Fogel made her feature debut with Life Partners, a 2014 comedy-drama about a young woman struggling to deal when her best friend gets a boyfriend and she becomes a third wheel. Although the movie tackled loneliness and the gray area between platonic and romantic intimacy, it was at its heart a story about female friendship, and the best parts of The Spy Who Dumped Me continue that theme. Audrey and Morgan are consistently supportive of one another whether it's Audrey's just-been-dumped blues or three gunmen on motorcycles trying to put holes in their getaway taxi. The rest of the film is spottier, delivering on action but struggling to fully craft its characters or plot, and caving to modern riff-heavy comedy sensibilities.

Dumped suffers a bit from feeling similar to Paul Feig's superior Spy. Although Feig's protagonist had some training and often worked solo, the movie still had characters who were best friends getting wrapped up in fish-out-of-water action sequences. Even the tan European architecture looks familiar -- one could almost envision the two movies' car chases intersecting, and some extremely tangential casting connections (Feig's Ghostbusters star McKinnon and Heat supporting player Jane Curtin, again playing a mom). More than anything, though, Dumped is let down by the Feig/Apatowian ad-lib style creeping into the film. There's an unfunny video conference between Sebastian and Duffer and their boss at MI6 (a wasted Gillian Anderson), tiresome recurring gags with Lolly Adefope playing Audrey's passive-aggressive friend Tess and Duffer bragging about being a Harvard grad, and McKinnon is let loose to hit-and-miss effect throughout the movie (she's a great performer, but half of her bits feel like her digging for a joke on the spot).

On the other hand, the chemistry between Kunis and McKinnon is evident, buoying the movie's funnier sequences. Kunis has a quiet, nervous energy that serves as a great counterbalance to McKinnon's giddy enthusiasm, and the movie's best material (the two frantically sharing intimate secrets to a creepy assassin played by Ivanna Sakhno, a physical comedy routine where Audrey is trying to get Morgan to swallow an important object) is like a tennis game between the two of them. Kunis gets the most out of her character's arc, a slow emergence from her shell, and generates some meet-cute sparks between herself and both of the movie's leading men (flashback sequences showing how Drew and Audrey first met, present-day flirting with Sebastian even when his allegiances are in question).

The film's action is also impressive for a comedy, providing a bloody intensity that pushes a largely PG-13-feeling movie up into R-rated territory. Although the film has a decidedly mid-to-low-budget scope, Fogel and her action and stunt team do a good job of selling a Bourne-esque grittiness that serves as the straight backdrop to the film's comedy shenanigans. There are times when the splatter feels like it might get in the way with the audience's ability to laugh (the death of an obnoxious cab driver feels a touch callous), but the sequences represent a big advantage that Dumped has over most action comedies, which tend to feature adequate but largely unmemorable gunfights and car chases.

The Blu-ray
The Spy Who Dumped Me had a number of cool posters done by independent artists -- Lionsgate tends to produce some snazzy marketing materials -- so it figures that this disc comes adorned in one of the standard Photoshop images, featuring Kunis and McKinnon making finger guns over some smaller imagery of action and the leading men (shout-out to my friend Danielle Solzman, who got her first pull-quote on the back cover). Inside the eco-friendly Viva Elite Blu-ray case (the kind with holes), there's the Blu-ray, the DVD copy, and a leaflet with a Digital HD code (note: Lionsgate codes are, for the moment, neither affiliated with UltraViolet or MoviesAnywhere). The entire thing comes in a glossy slipcover with identical art.

The Video and Audio
Both the 2.39:1 1080p AVC video and Dolby Atmos audio track (output as Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on my non-Atmos sound system) are predictably impressive for a 2018 disc of a 2018 movie. The movie places a significant emphasis on serious action, and the resulting sound mix is quite exciting, with lots of gunfights, car chases, and explosions rendered with excellent immersiveness and fidelity. The picture is sharp and colorful, and I did not pick up on any banding or artifacting during the darker trapeze sequence near the climax of the film. Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Descriptive Audio tracks are also on board, as are English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The Extras
Three featurettes are included: "Covert Operations: The Making of The Spy Who Dumped Me" (11:15), "Gary Powell: The King of Action" (9:04) aka "Gary Powell: The Action Behind the Film" if you go by the menu rather than the box, and "Makin' Friends With Hasan Minaj" (6:46). The first two are decent, conveying minor but genuinely interesting behind-the-scenes information about the making of the movie, including the speed at which the film came together and the process of developing the action sequences. The third one is more of an extended joke featurette in which Minaj wanders around and pretends to be close friends with random crew members. Might've been amusing at 3 minutes but feels like overkill at almost 7.

In addition to the documentaries, the package wraps up with a collection of 11 deleted scenes (9:35), a reel of outtakes (6:41), and a piece titled "Off Script" (6:07). The deleted scenes are generally pretty good, underlining the movie's themes of close female friendship, even if they're all extremely brief and none of them instantly feel like material that needed to be in the film. The outtakes are actually quite fun, if only because genuine chemistry between Kunis and McKinnon shines through. Finally, "Off Script" is essentially the disc's version of the Line-O-Rama feature that is popular on modern riff-heavy comedies, although this one makes the unusual choice to show all the alternate riffs via B-roll rather than deleted footage. There are some amusing bits in the piece, and using B-roll means the viewer gets to see when Kunis and McKinnon manage to make Sakhno break when riffing on some of their shared secrets.

Trailers for A Simple Favor, Uncle Drew, and Overboard (2018) play before the main menu. No theatrical trailer for The Spy Who Dumped Me has been included.

The Spy Who Dumped Me is a frustratingly okay experience that offers some crowd-pleasing highs but cries out for a tighter screenplay and less ad-libbing, to solidify the movie's BFF relationship at its core and punch up some of the humor. That said, flaws and all, the results are probably worth a rental if you like any of these performers.

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