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Review: Spin Me Round

Co-written by star Alison Brie and director Jeff Baena, Spin Me Round is chock full of funny actors frequently in Baena's films. Despite a few interesting ideas, it is hard to see the film as much more than an excuse for a bunch of friends to travel to Italy and make a movie. Underbaked and tonally inconsistent, the film fails to land enough laughs to work as a comedy and never commits to the mystery it regularly teases. The result is a muddled and meandering movie with some likable people and pretty locations.

Amber (Brie) is the manager of a Tuscan Grove restaurant, a stand-in for Olive Garden, in Bakersfield. When her boss (Lil Rel Howery) informs her that she has been chosen for a company trip, she is off to Florence, Italy. At first, it seems like a dream as she is driven to a beautiful villa. Then they are informed they will actually be staying in a nearby hotel and from there, things get more troubling. Amber and the other winners' days are spent mostly doing training exercises like trust falls. Amber soon gets invited by Kat (Aubrey Plaza) to venture into the city. It is here where things begin to get strange. CEO Nick (Alessandro Nivola) soon takes a liking to Amber, she reminds him of his sister, and it is clear he has intentions for her.

Spin Me Round never commits to the mystery it suggests. The locations are stunning and shot nicely by Sean McElwee but there is little else here to enjoy. The fantastic cast that includes Molly Shannon, Debby Ryan, Zach Woods, Tim Heidecker, and Fred Armisen is mostly wasted. This is largely due to the screenplay that never gives any of these characters clear motivations. Most of them barely act like real people. It is a shame because there is something funny about the premise. Amber is a cliche, bringing a copy of "Eat Pray Love" with her to Italy, and a lot could be minded from her discovering that the idyllic Italian countryside is not as innocent as she thinks. None of this materializes and the big reveal of what is going on is basic and ridiculous.

The aim of the film seems to be a satirical look at restaurant franchises but most of that gets lost in a bunch of directionless scenes of improv. It is hard not to think that everyone had fun making this but that fun doesn't translate to the screen. At one point I thought the film was a parody of the romance genre as Nick pulls out all the stops to woo Amber but a third act reveal takes things in a sleazy direction. At the end of the film, I struggled to find a point. I guess the film is a reminder of how weird and empty rich people can be. That is odd coming from a film that feels like a bunch of actors hanging out in Italy. The film almost seems secondary to the vacation they must have all had. Full of skeletal characters with baffling motivations and a plot that goes nowhere, Spin Me Round is a vacation to skip.



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