You, dear reader, may have guessed this already, but just in case you haven’t: I watch a lot of movies. Like, a lot. That new red MoviePass card came out just around the same time that the local cineplex remodeled itself into a “luxury theater” with the reserved reclining seats, dining service, and all that jazz. But besides that, when the day’s work is done and it’s time to chill, Netflix/Prime/Kodi is my M.O.
Side-note, I’m running Kodi on LibreElec on a Dell micro-PC that I procured for $99 a few Black Friday’s ago. It’s puny by PC standards, but beefy by media-stick/RPi standards, so it works pretty well. I’m finding that the WiFi isn’t always quite up to the task of steadily streaming 1080p, but… meh. It’s generally usable. It serves up movies from my 3TB spinning-rusts on the circa-2014 gaming PC via Plex, which is a phenomenal app for the modern moviephile — if you haven’t checked it out, do it.
Let’s Get To It!
Back on topic. Off topic, I mean. I recently saw The Spy Who Dumped Me. I was excited for this movie as soon as I saw the poster: Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. Need I say more? Not really, but I will, because that’s presumably why you’re reading. I mean, I could watch these two actresses do just about anything for 2 hours. Let alone a buddy-action-comedy about international intelligence intrigue gone awry.
I first loved McKinnon in the Ghostbusters reboot, where she, no disrespect to the rest of the phenomenal cast, stole the show. That was a super fun movie too. (I’m not an SNL guy, though her Hillary impersonation was superb.) And Kunis, I’ve loved since she took over the voice of Meg in Family Guy.
This is somewhat of a directorial debut from Susanna Fogel (she has some credits, but nothing blockbuster-worthy, as far as I can tell), and it hits a lot of good notes. The acting is solid — especially, obviously, the two leads — the action believable, the punchlines not overly cheesy, the character development realistic, and the twists compelling, if a bit predictable.
The one notable gripe I have is the completely random and unnecessary bit of male nudity. And it’s not that I’m a prude; nudity can have its place in movies, if it serves a purpose. Look at Forgetting Sarah Marshall — very similar to this instance, technically, but its purpose was clearly to emphasize the point of the character’s vulnerability and shamelessness. Contrasted to here, where it’s just some dude that Kate’s character hooked up with who turns out to be the first of dozens of agents to try to kill the duo in pursuit of the elusive “flash drive of doom” (which, surprisingly, is not yet a TvTropes trope, but I feel like it should be). There was literally no point.
On the whole, the movie was excellent — a fun ride through Europe on the tails of two hapless yet confident, inexperienced yet tough, and sometimes supremely lucky ladies who go toe-to-toe with agents of CIA, MI6, and the big scary Russian Mafia. We see these amazingly close best friends overcome frightening odds and tense situations by sticking together and encouraging each other, which is pretty awesome if you think about it. There’s a lot of negativity thrown around these days, whether it’s in the name of politics, social movements, or otherwise. Even your standard male buddy-cop movie usually hinges on the guys’ “banter” of tearing each other down (even in jest), and rarely does it truly bring out the best elements of their character.
Speaking of characters, the chemistry of these two women is top-notch. They’re different, to be sure, but it works in their favor. McKinnon is obviously more extroverted; “a little much” as someone tells her derogatorily, but that’s why we love her. Kunis is of course more subtle; coy, yet never a damsel in distress. One of the best bits of dialog in the movie, I think, comes from McKinnon’s positively bursting joy at seeing the head of MI6 is in fact a woman, who “hasn’t sacrificed one ounce of femininity!” (Gillian Anderson, of course, being very familiar with the role of an intelligence officer).
Now, I will normally try to avoid spoilers. Today I will simply tease that yes, while Kunis ends up falling for a guy, he’s proven worthy, and there’s no reason to fault her for it. If anything, it keeps us grounded in reality. Of course that reality quickly turns fantasy again in the “post ending”, but that’s for you to enjoy.
Highly recommended, two thumbs up.
Happy Hump Day! Now go watch some movies. Preferably this one. But hey, I ain’t the boss of you. Do your thing. And stay tuned for more!