‘Spin Me Round’ Review: Alison Brie Goes on a Strange, Funny, and Uneven Italian Vacation

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This review was originally published at part of our SXSW 2022 coverage.

Spin Me Round starts off like a rom-com waiting to happen. Amber (Alison Brie), having worked as a manager at the Italian restaurant Tuscan Grove for nine years, gets invited to the company’s managerial program in Italy. Her roommate Emily (Ego Nwodim) almost immediately jumps to the idea that Amber will probably find love on this trip, and Amber agrees that this will probably be a life-altering adventure. Yet almost right away, the trip isn’t what Amber, or the rest of the travelers, expected. Deb (Molly Shannon) has lost her luggage, the trip’s guide (High Maintenance’s Ben Sinclair) takes all the visitor’s passports, and instead of staying at a beautiful villa, they’re stuck at a dingy hotel with doors that don’t lock and silverfish.

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While the rest of the Tuscan Grove managers (including Zach Woods, Tim Heidecker, Ayden Mayeri, and Debby Ryan) are underwhelmed by this program, Amber is whisked away by Tuscan Grove’s owner, Nick Martucci (Alessandro Nivola), who is always under the watchful eye of his assistant, Kat (Aubrey Plaza). But as the trip continues and people start disappearing from the program, Amber starts to wonder if there’s something more going on than her happily ever after vacation.

Director Jeff Baena has a solid track record of gathering hilarious actors together and letting them try something a bit out of their comfort zone. 2014’s Life After Beth put Plaza in the center of a zombie love story, while 2016’s Joshy gave Thomas Middleditch a more dramatic role, and 2017’s The Little Hours just let everyone get a little insane with his religious comedy. Baena’s last film, 2020’s Horse Girl, which, like Spin Me Round, was co-written by Baena and Brie, paid more attention to Brie’s lead character and less on the ensemble cast. Spin Me Round does a mixture of both.

RELATED: Like ‘Horse Girl,’ ‘Spin Me Round’ Embraces Chaos By Shattering Genre Expectations

While at the manager’s program, Spin Me Round becomes a fun ensemble comedy, thanks to an unhinged Shannon, a scene-stealing Mayeri, and Woods, who gets an opportunity to be an accomplice to Amber as the film’s mysteries expand. However, Amber’s adventures in Italy with Nick and Kat surprisingly aren’t nearly as fun. Baena and Brie have written Amber as almost a blank slate, so her exploration of Italy is only as fun as her companions at any given time. Beyond Amber’s desire for love and slight hints that Amber isn’t happy with her job—of which nothing is really done—Amber is mostly just a tool Baena uses to explore this story.


Yet Amber’s malleability as a character works for this genre twisting tale. What Spin Me Round at first is presented almost like a princess story, this quickly devolves into a trip of disappointment and lowered expectations. Spin Me Round sort of twists what it is depending on the scene. At times, it can be Amber’s ideal romantic getaway, but at other times, it’s a horror movie, a mystery, an awkward comedy, and even a sort of whodunit.

While the free-flowing structure of Spin Me Round works in bits and pieces, there’s very little overall purpose to the narrative Baena and Brie have crafted here. Spin Me Round is at its best when it’s working in Baena’s wheelhouse, bringing together a bunch of fun actors and having them play off each other. But as a whole, Spin Me Round feels like little more than a vacation. Sure, it’s fun and you have a good time while you’re gone, but there’s not enough substantive to take back home with you.


Rating: B-

Spin Me Round comes to theaters, VOD, and AMC+ on August 19.



Source
Las Vegas News Magazine

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