Reel Reviews: Different travels for different audiences

By on August 1, 2018

‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’

On Friday night at 7 p.m., movie fans were invited to a BYOBesties advance screening of “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” the new female-lead action/comedy starring Mila Kunis (“Bad Moms”) and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live). So, I went…by myself.

Kunis is Audrey, a cute but tough 30-something Los Angelite who has seemingly fallen in love — until she gets a brief breakup text from her boyfriend, Drew (Justin Theroux, “The Girl on the Train”). It turns out Drew is a superspy and is running for his life, but he needs to get back to Audrey, who unknowingly holds international secrets inside a fantasy football trophy at her apartment. Morgan (McKinnon) is Audrey’s BFF and volunteers to travel to Europe with her gal pal to deliver the secret statue. And all hell breaks loose.

“The Spy Who Dumped Me” pulls no punches when it comes to action-related violence, and it works in this format where the movie seems to take itself just serious enough to be intriguing, but completely aware of its farcical nature to exploit it. In the end, it is the badass Audrey who envelopes the spy lifestyle along with her sequin pantsuit-wearing sidekick Morgan, who is the setup girl and comedic relief.

The ladies in attendance on Friday night cheered and swooned aloud at the initial sight of Sam Heughan as an operative named Sebastian. It wasn’t until I started to write this column and Googled him that I learned he plays Jamie Fraser in the Starz series “Outlander.” That explains the response.

Writer and director Susanna Fogel’s foray into mainstream movie-making is not without its faults, but it is a solid showing. It is smart enough to keep intelligent minds intrigued and sexy enough to overshadow the parts that are downright disturbing.

With a little more time and attention to detail, “The Spy Who Dumped Me” could have been a classic with a clear path to several successful sequels. We’ll have to see how the movie performs this Friday when it opens nationally if we get are to get more of this crackpot duo packed with potential.

“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” features the vocal talents of celebs Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, and Molly Shannon — to name a few.

‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’

Just as the phrase “back to school” enters the everyday lexicon of Americans, kids and their parents were treated to another installment of Genndy Tartakovsky’s (“Dexter’s Laboratory”) Hotel Transylvania franchise.

This time around, Drac (Adam Sandler) and his extended family of monsters are off for a vacation cruise to Atlantis. But, something is amiss with the boat’s captain, Ericka (voiced by Kathryn Hahn). Love entangles the evil exploits of the Van Helsing family who are bent on ridding the world of “evil” monsters.

At the end of this movie I said, “I want the next movie to be ‘The Adventures of Tinkles, as Bob.’” The overgrown puppy (voiced by Joe Whyte) is definitely my favorite character, although his excessive slobber can turn off many viewers who see no need for filth-humor. I don’t mind dog slobber, so I’m okay.

I must give a big shout out to my friend and fellow film fan Kim P. of New Holland for turning me on to “Puppy!: A Hotel Transylvania Short.” The five-minute laugh ride is available online for free from Sony Pictures and gives the whole backstory of the untimely and appropriately named Tinkles. Dog slobber haters be warned, this short is not for you.

Fans of the first two films, you will not be disappointed in this movie. Although it starts a little slowly, the comedy is laugh-out-loud and we easily remember why we liked all these ghouls so much in the first place.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael Upton at

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