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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Spy Who Dumped Me is a bawdy buddy action comedy that offers a strong message of friendship amid the over-the-top espionage mayhem. Main characters Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) define "I'll be there for you": bolstering each other's self-confidence, communicating/working as a team, supporting each other through the good and very bad, and going above and beyond to look out for each other. But there's more blood and gore than you might expect in a comedy, including lots of weapons (especially guns, sometimes shot point-blank), brutal beatings, torture, sawn-off body parts, and more. One brutal fight sequence features a naked man whose genitals are shown from various angles. Profanity flows, especially "f--k," and there's plenty of sexual content, including kissing, crude sex talk, skimpy outfits, etc. (though women are portrayed as in control of their sexuality). Characters drink and talk about drugs; driving under the influence is a punchline. But in the end, the movie encourages women to look a little deeper at their own skill set and embrace new challenges -- and to never underestimate themselves, or each other.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME, Audrey (Mila Kunis) believes she can't finish anything she starts. So when she learns that her ex-boyfriend, Drew (Justin Theroux), is actually a CIA agent who's being chased by assassins, she's determined to finish his assignment to save lives -- including her own. Audrey and her best friend, Morgan (Kate McKinnon), hop a plane to Europe, winging a plan to infiltrate the spy ring. The deeper they get, the more unclear it becomes who to trust, the more severe the consequences, and the more they realize that they're kind of good at this spy gig.
Is it any good?
This often hilarious action comedy is a great pick for a ladies' (not girls' -- it's not for kids!) night out: The fun is increased exponentially by how many friends are watching with you. McKinnon has established herself as a master of character creation, and Morgan is her most down-to-earth (but still hysterical) personality yet. And Kunis is credible as an everywoman, making an over-the-top situation relatable. Writer-director Susanna Fogel lets viewers play along, evaluating the decisions they might make in those circumstances.
Stories about female friendship often have a moment in which women have a rift or a misunderstanding that must be resolved. Fogel avoids this cliché, demonstrating that real women are much more about encouragement and support than tearing each other down or leaving each other behind. What's most notable is that time is devoted to point out the strengths of all the women, even the female villains. Fogel uses the big screen to show that women can be tough and capable without sacrificing their femininity -- the tough female assassin is just as comfortable on the runway as she is toting a machine gun. It's not just Audrey who learns she can do anything; by making this movie, Fogel proves that women can clearly succeed in areas it's been believed they "can't" -- including writing and directing a violent action-adventure comedy that features beautiful cinematography in exotic locations.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether The Spy Who Dumped Me defies gender stereotypes by depicting women in a variety of roles. How does it compare to other action/spy movies? Do you think it's beneficial to see women in "bad guy" roles? Why or why not?
How does the violence in The Spy Who Dumped Me compare to what you might see in movies more focused on action than comedy? Does the movie's tone change the impact of the content? Does exposure to violent movies make kids more aggressive?
Do you think the movie's strong language has a purpose? Do curse words make lines funnier? Would the movie have worked without as much swearing?
Audrey has a lot of self-doubt. Where do you think that thinking comes from? Do you have friends who think that way? What do you do to encourage them?
- In theaters: August 3, 2018
- Cast: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Sam Heughan
- Director: Susanna Fogel
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Friendship
- Character Strengths: Communication, Teamwork
- Run time: 116 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, language throughout, some crude sexual material and graphic nudity
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