There’s a void at the core of the action-comedy “The Spy Who Dumped Me” that a joke-heavy script and the always-hilarious Kate McKinnon busting her butt in the sidekick role can’t quite overcome. Maybe it’s me, but I think what’s lacking is the “me” of the title.
The “me” is Audrey, an organic-foods store clerk in L.A., played by Mila Kunis. Audrey is such a bland drip of a character that even if you put a comedic spark plug in the role, like Melissa McCarthy or Kristen Wiig, you wouldn’t get much for the effort. Giving the role to Kunis, the least funny performer in “Ted” and two “Bad Moms” movies, is a portent of doom.
Audrey just recently got a break-up text from Drew (Justin Theroux), so she’s in the dumps on her birthday. Audrey’s live-wire best pal Morgan (that’s McKinnon) suggests they ceremonially burn all of Drew’s stuff, and Audrey does the courtesy of texting Drew to tell him. What Audrey doesn’t know is that Drew is at that moment in Lithuania, killing and trying to avoid being killed by some nasty customers. Still, Drew calls back to apologize, and to beg Audrey not to burn his stuff until he can talk to her.
The next day, Audrey is put into a mysterious van, where two intelligence operatives — Sebastian (“Outlander” star Sam Heughan), who’s with Britain’s MI-6, and Duffer (Hasan Minhaj, from “The Daily Show”), who’s in the CIA — to ask what she knows about Drew. Not long after, Drew shows up in Audrey’s apartment, follows by a lot of bullets and a naked Ukrainian assassin (Dustin Demri-Burns). Drew gets shot, but not before telling Audrey to take an item to Vienna immediately.
Within minutes, for reasons that only make sense in a comedy like this, Audrey and Morgan are on their way to Vienna. But the drop is interrupted by Sebastian and more gunplay. (Have I mentioned this is an incredibly bloody movie for a comedy?) The chase continues through Prague, Paris and Amsterdam, with Audrey and Morgan unsure who to trust — though they figure out quickly that Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno), a gymnast-turned-supermodel who’s also a ruthless assassin, is definitely on the “don’t trust” list.
Director Susanna Fogel (creator of the ABC Family series “Chasing Life”), who co-wrote the script with prolific TV writer David Iserson, stuffs her movie with plenty of solid gags, like the left-field lines about Edward Snowden and Nadedja’s thwarted Olympic dreams. She’s also particular in her supporting casting, like hiring Jane Curtin and Paul Reiser, and choosing Gillian Anderson as Sebastian’s no-nonsense boss.
But for all of the funny bits, many of them pulled off with childlike delight by McKinnon, “The Spy Who Dumped Me” is dragged down by Kunis’ humorless vibe. She’s a comedic black hole, sucking the funny out of too many moments of a movie that could have been an enjoyable late-summer surprise.
‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’
Opens Friday, August 3, in theaters everywhere. Rated R for violence, language throughout, some crude sexual material and graphic nudity. Running time: 116 minutes.