You would think with streaming video being the norm and the fact that there are a million different options of movies to watch at home, finding something to review on a week I didn’t make it out to the theater would be relatively easy.
It’s harder than you might think.
Do I want to watch a blockbuster release? Well, maybe, but I’ve probably already seen it in the theater.
What about a great indie that I can recommend that people wouldn’t have heard of? Possible, but often they’re disturbing or depressing. That or they’re so obscure no one has ever heard of them. Did anyone seek out that Irish historical drama I watched a few weeks ago? No need to answer.
How about something that’s getting a lot of buzz? Yeah, Lars von Trier is the kind of director who gets buzz and I just don’t have the emotional bandwidth to make it through one of his films. Violent pornography might be avant-garde, but not for me.
What about a good old-fashioned action or sci-fi movie? There are more of those than you can shake a stick at, but it turns out that the budgets on these films are so low that it’s hard to suspend my disbelief.
Suffice it to say, finding a movie that actually is worth watching and writing about is not as easy as it sounds. For this week’s movie I felt like I was settling for the least problematic option, kind of a lowest-common-denominator movie, but in some ways it turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.
“The Spy Who Dumped Me” is not a particularly good movie in any traditional sense. The writing is pretty bad and the premise is ridiculous. But with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon in the lead, the comedy is on point and the buddy chemistry is very comfortable.
I generally enjoy these two actresses and watching them goof around in a silly, throwaway spy movie, was just what I wanted. Mostly.
At the opening of the movie, we meet Drew, the titular spy, escaping from bad guys in some foreign seaport. Back home, his ex-girlfriend Audrey is being forced to celebrate a birthday she has no interest in, especially after breaking up via text message.
What Audrey doesn’t realize, as she and best friend Morgan decide to burn all of Drew’s leftover belongings, is what her boyfriend does for a living. Staving off the arsonist tendencies of the two women, Drew rushes back to the states only to be shot by a naked Croat in Amanda’s apartment. Morgan brought him home from the party, but turns out he was a spy, too.
With his dying breath, Drew entreats Morgan and Audrey to travel to Europe and deliver a jump drive to a shady contact. In the meantime, Audrey has been approached by people claiming to be the CIA who reveal that Drew is playing both sides. Whom to trust?
The answer is unclear, but it hardly matters as these two bumble through mystery after mystery trying to get to the bottom of those mysterious encrypted computer files.
What I found interesting about this movie is that it is the first one I’ve seen that seems to legitimately take a female perspective on the buddy cop genre. This is certainly not the first to flip the script, gender wise, but instead of movies like “The Heat” or the latest “Ghostbusters,” where the difference was really commented upon, this film just takes it for granted. So much so that the director felt no need to throw in jokes to explain this funny situation to the men in the audience. Like similar movies from the eighties and nineties, this movie does have some gratuitous nudity, but it’s entirely male, and the two lead characters, while sometimes they dress up and appear alluring, are never sexualized in the way women in spy movies always are.
It’s too bad that this movie was so poorly written — it could have been a real game changer. As it is, it’s an interesting addition to the general equalization that is occurring in Hollywood. And, if you’re not interested in larger issues of feminism, the movie is pretty funny, and the action is good too. Grade: B
“The Spy Who Dumped Me” is rated R for pervasive language, violence and brief nudity.
• By CHRIS JENNESS, Now Playing