Jeff Baena has written a lot of things over the last few years that have broken the mold and done something new for the comedy genre by not delivered the typical trope movies. He and his now wife, Aubrey Plaza, always manage to deliver the obscure and downright fun with their projects. With the addition of Alison Brie as a contributing writer, his newest outing, Spin Me Round, should’ve been a home run of epic proportions, however, it was just a standard, middle-of-the-road comedy. The film truly shines when it focuses on the ensemble, but when it’s left to its own devices and singular storylines, it falls apart at the seams.
The movie focuses on Amber (Alison Brie) as she is a manager at an Olive Garden-esque restaurant amply named, Tuscan Grove, who gets invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Tuscany for a managers retreat. Expecting this lavish paradise vacation, Amber is all game to go until the ideal retreat is not as it appears. Neither is the reason the owner of the company, Nick (Alessandro Nivola), gives for inviting his managers on this vacation. The other managers included on this trip consist of a comedy smorgasbord of talent: Molly Shannon, Zach Woods, Tim Heidecker, Ayden Mayeri and Debby Ryan. Kat (Aubrey Plaza) is Nick’s direct assistant and clearly has an agenda on these vacations and getaways for the managers and knows Nick’s weaknesses. She convinces Amber to leave the “retreat” and explore Italy with Nick, but after a few encounters, Amber starts to realize other members of the retreat start miraculously vanishing, as well, and thinks something larger is afoot.
While Spin Me Round certainly has its moments, the overall comedy doesn’t come from the leads interacting with each other, as Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza are both surprisingly not the standouts of this film. Molly Shannon manages to steal every scene she is in and creates uproars of laughter from the audience, while Zach Woods, Tim Heidecker, Ayden Mayeri, and Debby Ryan all get their moments to shine and deliver signature moments, as well. However, when the powerhouse duo of Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie are present on screen, the audience is surely disappointed that there are not more comedy and hijinks that the duo get into, as that is where the expectations lay. While the two certainly deliver some great performances, it would’ve created a more enjoyable film if, atop of their co-stars’ scene-stealing antics, they, too, had moments to shine throughout the film and provide some of the signature laughs audiences have come to expect from them.
Based on the previous works of Jeff Baena (I Heart Huckabees, Life After Beth, The Little Hours, Horse Girl), audiences come expecting something to spit their morning coffee out to, that would almost offend the easily offendable. Spin Me Round plays things a little too safe, there is nothing obscenely absurd, nothing unfathomable, just nothing out of the ordinary. For someone who’s made a career almost out of breaking the mold and doing something different and not following the tropes of the genre that have been predetermined to already exist, Spin Me Round is a safe choice of a movie to tell.
While the performances from the entire cast of Spin Me Round certainly provide for some entertainment and laughs, the entirety of the movie blends itself into the same old song and dance audiences have seen before. There is nothing that leaves you shocked or anything even insightful as there is nothing new brought to the forefront by the Baena’s picture. Plaza and Brie being underutilized from their full potential is also a downfall of this otherwise middle-of-the-road adventure.
Screening during the 2022 SXSW Film Festival.
SXSW Screening Information:
*Saturday, March 12th, Screening @ 6:15 pm CT, ZACH Theatre
*Monday, March 14th, On-line Screening @ 9:00 am CT
*Tuesday, March 15th, Screening @ 4:15 CT, Alamo Lamar E
*Tuesday, March 15th, Screening @ 9:00 pm CT, AFS Cinema
*Wednesday, March 16th, Screening @ 4:00 pm CT, Rollins Cinema at the Long Center
For more information, head to the official SXSW webpage.
Final Score: 3 out of 5.