The spy comedy genre definitely has its heavyweights—from Austin Powers to Top Secret to Spies Like Us. For the first hour or so, The Spy Who Dumped Me does its best to hang with those classics, if never quite achieving their same level of effortlessness. It’s that second hour where things start to devolve.
Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) are two best friends who get drawn into the international world of spy vs. spy when Audrey’s boyfriend, who is a real spy, gets murdered in front of them but not before handing over a top-secret flash drive. If that setup of two no-nothings bumbling their way through the spy world sounds like comedy gold to you, well, it kind of is for the first hour or so. From car chases to shootouts in cafes, that first hour actually works on the sheer relentlessness of its zany hijinks. Credit goes to McKinnon particularly, as her physicality often brings the biggest laughs.
The second hour (and this film could have definitely used thirty or so minutes trimmed from it) is where things slow down to a crawl. The hyperkinetic energy of the first half that didn’t give you a chance to consider if the jokes were actually landing or simply so manic that you didn’t care is drained from the movie. McKinnon still does her best, but even a late movie acrobatic set-piece is more impressive as a stunt than funny. Kunis, on the other hand, does an admirable job but doesn’t have the comedic chops to carry many of the scenes by herself. It feels like a movie that forgot it was supposed to be fish out of water trying to be spies, and suddenly bought into them being real spies. Conversely, the Melissa McCarthy star vehicle Spy from a couple years back kept up the awkwardness throughout and is a better spy comedy for it.
There are laughs to be had here, and there is something endearing about the friendship between Audrey and Morgan for the way it’s never exploited stupidly with roadblocks like fighting over a man. Still, I can’t fully recommend a film that casts Gillian Anderson as the head of MI6 and then gives her almost nothing to do.