Sure, you could head to your local theater and see Idris Elba tackle a lion or Brad Pitt fight Bad Bunny, or you can venture out to see a movie that is funny, a bit cheesy and just the right amount of sexy with Spin Me Round.
Amber (Allison Brie), is your average joe; managing an Italian restaurant — think Bertucci’s — complete with pasta that’s microwaved and alfredo sauce out of a packet. But her mundane, comfortable life that she’s accustomed to is given new life when her boss (played by Lil Rey Howery) sends her on an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy framed as some sort of special training program for various managers. On the surface, it looks like a beautiful trip to a villa in the Italian countryside. But it turns out to be more than anticipated.
This “training program” takes an odd turn from the very moment Amber lands. She’s greeted by Ben (Ben Sinclair), the one leading most of the “activities,” who immediately takes the passports of Amber and the two of the other girls at the airport: Deb (Molly Shannon) and Jen (Ayden Mayeri), I will admit, the setup for the film sounds a lot like a film where Liam Neeson has a particular set of skills, but you’ll see that it’s far different than that and closer to a particular Stanley Kubrick film.
Once the trio is brought to a hotel right next to the villa, they are introduced to the rest of the group. Every single one of the different managers fits some type of archetype: there’s Deb, the frantic one of the group with a bit of the Jesse Pinkman syndrome of saying “bitch” at every available turn; Jen, a “pick me girl”; Fran (Tim Heidecker), the pretentious one of the group who couldn’t wait to bestow his “knowledge” amongst the group; Dana (Zach Woods), who is pretty much his character from The Office; and Susie (Debby Ryan), the Gen Z’er there for “funsies.” But after a few odd excursions with the CEO of the entire restaurant chain, Nick (Alessandro Nivola), and his assistant Kat (Aubrey Plaza), Amber begins questioning their real purpose there amidst the cooking classes and screenings of Life is Beautiful.
Despite how cartoonish the film becomes later on, Spin Me Round is surprisingly genuine when it comes to portraying the characters. Allison Brie is charming in her role as Amber, the closed-off woman that’s content with her very monotonous and impotent life. Bear in mind that Brie co-wrote the script alongside director Jeff Baena — their second collaboration — so that level of involvement may have allowed Brie to mold the character as she wanted. There’s something relatable about this 30-something-year-old that does yearn for love — and believes deep down that she could potentially find it during this trip to a magical place like Italy — but is still closed off due to past events.
And while Brie arguably carries the film, don’t discount the other actors who may not have as much time to shine. Starting with the amazing Ayden Mayeri, she’s instantly become one of my favorite actors to watch between her performance here and in Confess, Fletch (out this fall). Her performance in Spin Me Round is a far cry from her performance in Confess, Fletch, where she plays a hardass cop. Even still, she retains her sarcastic flare in Spin Me Round whilst still playing a very different type of character. Jen is one of those Gen Z types that you roll your eyes at in the mall, but it’s hard to do that when someone as charismatic as Mayeri is playing that character. She also stars in the Apple TV+ series, The Afterparty, which I’m now very inclined to watch after seeing two of her performances. Just a phenomenal talent and I can’t wait to see even more of her work. Consider this my application for the Ayden Mayeri fan club before she blows up.
Admittedly, it’s a bit strange to hear Debby Ryan — whom I grew up watching on Disney Channel’s Jesse — talk about sex toys; but that’s the natural progression of life, isn’t it? Similarly to Jen, Susie is someone who you’d normally roll your eyes at, but you just can’t help but like her as a character. She does exit stage left for a majority of the film, but the small fragments with her are a refreshing change of pace for someone who hasn’t seen much of her since her Disney Channel role.
Alessandro Nivola is mostly just fine in his role as Nick, but he has a scene where he cries whilst pouring his heart out and it’s one of those things that starts so awkwardly, but it goes on for so long that you can’t help but laugh by the end of it. Fred Armisen also pops in as one of Nick’s rich friends who hosts a lavish house party. Armisen is a delight in any role he plays, so you can expect some laughs whenever he graces the screen.
Little screen time in Spin Me Round seems to be a recurring theme with such a large ensemble. Aubrey Plaza doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time to give a career-best performance like the recent Emily the Criminal — also in theaters — but she does give the film life and leave a lasting impact in her scenes. Perhaps it was a “business decision” to keep Plaza on the sidelines for portions of the film being that she’s married to the writer/director; but even still, she brings her signature sexiness to the role that will grab your attention like it does Amber in the film.
The film begins transitioning when the group decides to play a game of “Mafia” on their penultimate day in Italy. I’ll spare you of details of what happens, though I will say that it’s quite ironic that this comes while Bodies Bodies Bodies is currently in theaters. This is when Spin Me Round switches genres and becomes a bit burlesque. Without saying too much, two characters begin sleuthing and attempting to uncover the darker secrets of this program. One discovery leads to another, and you have an entertaining “chase” of sorts that’s complete lunacy. It’s a bit of an abrupt transition to this point, but once the film finds its footing with the more comedic tone, it’s undoubtedly as entertaining as it gets. Similarly to Bodies Bodies Bodies, Spin Me Round’s ultimate reveals play with the audience’s expectations; but the allusions to the intentions of this trip are quite on the nose if you’re paying attention. The adventure ends and then there are about 10 minutes of fluff that weren’t necessary for the story being told. It’s not a dealbreaker for the film, but it ultimately would’ve stuck the landing better had the film ended a tad bit sooner.
When it works, Spin Me Round works and is a really enjoyable summer comedy to close out the season. It occasionally has trouble finding its footing in certain genres, but it does lead to plenty of laughs and a really fun time at the movies. But the sheer amount of amazing actors in the ensemble makes it disappointing when certain characters disappear for gaps and are left in the background. It’s Aubrey Plaza’s summer, and we’re just living in it.
Spin Me Round is in theaters and on AMC+ now.