'The Spy Who Dumped Me' Is A Ridiculous Spy Comedy That Actually Understands Women

There's a particular Onion article that I refer back to constantly. It's titled "Female Friends Spend Raucous Night Validating The Living S*** Out Of Each Other," and it makes me laugh every time I think about it because, as with all great jokes, it's funny because it's based in some nugget of truth.

The Spy Who Dumped Me manages to get at a similar fundamental truth. It's a little long, and there are some bits that are fairly obviously punch-up, but its portrayal of female friendship as something empowering and good rather than a punchline is (while not as rare as it used to be) touching to see. Though the movie's plot, as suggested by its title, treads spy thriller territory as filtered through a rom-com/buddy comedy lens, when you boil it down to its basic parts, it's a film about a woman helping her best friend get over a break-up. As ridiculous as it may get, it still feels true.

I have to assume that a lot of that comes down to director Susanna Fogel (who also co-wrote the film with David Iverson). There are myriad moments in the film that, while universal in general feeling, are specific to female friendships. The reason I mention the Onion article is that one of the scenes in The Spy Who Dumped Me might as well be a direct corollary.

As the first act of the film draws to a close, best friends Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) have managed to find a way of ducking government surveillance. This is more impressive than it sounds given that "government surveillance" includes everyone after the top-secret information that Audrey's ex-boyfriend (Justin Theroux) dumped her to try to protect her from. Oh, and also: she's just shot and killed someone in order to make an escape.

As they regroup in a bathroom stall, Morgan brings the action grinding to a halt. "Can we just take a moment to appreciate you?" she asks, before launching into adoring praise. When Audrey tries to brush it off, Morgan protests, telling her that she's always minimizing her successes. Again, as per the Onion, it's the kind of conversation I've had with my female friends countless times.

I don't expect every friendship to manifest the same symptoms (for lack of a better word), but even if spending a night out affirmed each other (whether you mean to or not) isn't a part of your usual routine, I think that sense of unconditional love and longing for someone amazing to recognize their own worth should be familiar.

The Spy Who Dumped Me Trailer

Familiar, too, is a certain put-down — the first time Morgan meets Audrey's main squeeze and gives him the classic "hurt her and I'll hurt you" spiel, he calls her "a little much." Though it might not seem that notable — beyond Morgan later telling Audrey that there are things you can and can't complain about when your best friend is in a relationship with someone who seems like a dick — there's a specificity to the deployment that feels considered. Sure, the moment plays quickly, and maybe that's the point; it's the kind of nonsense that women have to put up with every day.

It's those little moments that give The Spy Who Dumped Me a little extra oomph. I'm sure I lost some objectivity the moment my best friend sent me the trailer with the message, "This is us, we're seeing this," but just as there are some movies you have to be in the right mood to watch and enjoy, I think there's a certain framing that elevates The Spy Who Dumped Me. When the assassin (Ivanna Sakhno) sent to kill Audrey and Morgan sets about torturing them, Morgan's go-to move isn't to beg for her life — it's to tell her something too rude to print, because that's her best friend she's messing with.

Of course, it also helps that the movie continues the trend of the "beautiful idiot." Though Sam Heughan's secret agent is a smart cookie, he's mostly there to act cool, and then bashful, as the occasion demands. And more importantly, he's secondary to the dynamic between Kunis and McKinnon. This is a movie about women, by women, for women (though that doesn't preclude anyone else from enjoying it — everybody has a best friend, even if it is an inanimate object, and the film has some killer action sequences). It doesn't punish its female characters for behavior that might be considered "girly" or stereotypical; rather, it embraces and celebrates them. Every now and then I need an Onion night.