Consider a movie about spies. Consider a movie, in particular, about a normal woman who is thrust into the position of having to be a spy without any real training, and so ends up fumbling her way through major European cities by a combination of dumb luck and common sense, to humorous effect. What you have considered is 2015's Spy, a compromised film that is nevertheless one of the best studio comedies of the 2010s, far and away the most satisfying Melissa McCarthy-led feature, and the cornerstone of the (accurate) argument that Rose Byrne is the most important comic actor of the decade.

And you have also considered The Spy Who Dumped Me, a film that is neither the best nor most satisfying version of anything. Unless that it is the best Mila Kunis + Kate McKinnon buddy comedy, which I imagine will be true only until such time as they make a second one.

Which I honestly hope they do, because that's actually the only thing about the movie that works. Kunis is the titular "me", a woman named Audrey who lives in Los Angeles doing whatever she does (things The Spy Who Dumped Me has no time for: character-building, backstory), while feeling hugely shitty about how her boyfriend of the last year, Drew (Justin Theroux) dumped her via text message, and did a bad job of it even by the standards of text-dumping. McKinnon is Audrey's best friend Morgan, an actress perpetually failing to get jobs in TV commercials, but who remains almost repulsively peppy and committed to a platitude-heavy routine of self-affirmation. The pair of them have very few if any actual personality traits, but it honestly doesn't even matter, because Kunis and McKinnon are at least slightly great together.

Certainly great enough to imply character depths that aren't living in Susanna Fogel (who also directs) & David Iserson's script. They are warm together: it is a film of admiring looks and protective body language, of line deliveries that a have a "do you remember the time...?" chortle just waiting to burst out. McKinnon is generally better at it, but there's not a lot of point to ranking them. It's just a happy pairing, one that reminds me of the prickly-sweet "I like you even though you're ridiculous and now let's start panicking together" relationship between Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in the Road movies of the 1940s, and given the film's premise - a pair of everyday Ugly Americans fall ass-first into a action-packed genre film - it's almost possible to squint hard enough that The Spy Who Dumped Me resembles a modern-day descendant.

The sheer pleasure of watching Kunis and McKinnon hang out carries the movie through a lot of rough spots, and that's extremely useful, because rough spots are mostly what the film has. So we have Audrey, we have Morgan, and we have Drew: the film puts them into a plot, which is that Drew (introduced first, in a quasi-Bondian teaser in Latvia) is actually a CIA super-spy, and Morgan's insistence on burning all of his junk in Audrey's apartment as a spiritually purgative act means that the very, very important MacGuffin he's been hiding among said junk is in danger. So he hurries back to L.A. to stop them, but a flustered, confused Morgan has already had a run in with the shady Sebastian (Sam Heughan) and Duffer (Hasan Minhaj), who are with a spy agency as-yet unnammed, and given up everything. In short order, Drew has been killed and with his last breath sets Audrey on a trek to Vienna, with a cheap trophy hiding a flash drive in tow. Cue shenanigans.

And oh my, such labored, joyless shenanigans they are. If what The Spy Who Dumped Me does best is to depict the sheer fact of a shaggy, lived-in friendship between its two stars, what it does worst is to be a spy movie, and the disappointing thing is that these are its first- and second-highest priorities. Basically, the film is better the farther it gets from its narrative, and it spends a disastrous amount of time working through its narrative. The thing lumbers along through several European locations (most of which are actually just Budapest, though Amsterdam plays itself), and lays in several shocking reveals, which grow increasingly ruinous and less shocking as the film goes along. The final big twist, in particular, is something that seems predictable from within the first ten minutes of the movie, and not because it feels inevitable, but because it's what hacky, bad screenwriters would do because it would be "surprising" (mostly because it would also be nonsensical). The story is frankly a chore to muddle through, with not one bright spot other than Gillian Anderson's small role as an impatient MI6 chief .who is extremely unimpressed by Morgan's awestruck babbling.

The film is a huge bore, there's no other way to put it. The multiple second units (there areΒ many names in this film's end credits) tasked with plugging action scenes into the film do no better at this than in any of the multitudes of other buddy film/action movies that have been forgotten over the last 40 years. Even worse than being pedestrian action, the setpieces murder any comic momentum: early on, there's a big shoot-out in a Viennese cafΓ© that certainly feels like it has gags built into it - at one point, a man is murdered by being drowned in a bowl of crepe batter - but also possesses a stone-faced mirthlessness that strangles any possible laughs. Much like it can be either a character showpiece or spy narrative, The Spy Who Dumped Me can be either a comedy or an action movie, but never both at the same time, and much like it has too much plot, it also has too much action.

So what are we left with? Only the bits living at the edges. Some of these are terrific: Jane Curtin and Paul Reiser have excellent extended cameos as Morgan's parents who have nice, prattling conversations as she falls deeper into crazy spy shit. And generally, the film has a pattern of about once every third scene really emphasising the inherent absurdity of thrusting a couple of highly domesticated Angelinos into an exotic thriller, with Audrey's boring habits and Morgan's airy, trite positivity turning increasingly manic and surreal with every new assassin they meet (though it is increasingly unclear that the film views Morgan's tepid inspirational calendar quotes as a joke). Both leads excel in these moments, though McKinnon at times indulges in the bad habit she has previously favored in her movie roles of replacing alien quirkiness with "acting". Still, if there's any movie you're going to try and torpedo from within by making it all about how colorfully weird your character is, might as well be this kind of movie: God knows there's nothing worth salvaging in The Spy Who Dumped Me, and McKinnon's bizarre excesses are frequently enough to make it distinctive. If that's the best we can hope for, so be it.