Spin Me Round is a comedic fever dream that surprises the audience with its crazy twists, well-rounded cast, and addicting relationships. What seemed like a basic comedy turned out to be a unique film that delivered emotion, depth, and genuine disappointment.
Amber, played by Alison Brie of the popular show Community, works as a manager for a trashy Italian food chain in the small town of Bakersfield. While working there, she is invited on a corporate retreat to the company’s luxurious mansion in Italy. Amber heads off on her trip with hopes of finding love and a life-changing experience.
Of course, things do not go as planned. Instead of the gorgeous mansion, she stays at a cheap hotel complex next door. Instead of thrilling travels, she’s stuck in a dull kitchen with instructors teaching useless lessons. The first day is a complete disappointment until she runs into the head of the company, handsome and alluring Nic (Alessandro Nivola), and his assistant Kat (Aubrey Plaza). Suddenly, Amber’s trip takes an exciting turn as Kat begins to drive her to romantic outings with Nic while the rest of the managers stay in their lessons.
Kat is this movie's most engaging character. Stressed, depressed, and tired of constant travel working as Nic’s assistant, she is still rebellious and confident. In contrast to some of the other more two-dimensional characters used mostly for comedic relief, Kat’s character is nuanced and interesting. Further, Kat’s relationship with Amber is what kept me invested and yearning for more. Both characters are not only looking for a good time, but also for relief from their stressful jobs. From the moment they first meet and Kat steals Amber away from the lessons for a quick smoke break, Kat’s wanting stares and confident flirtation create a sexual tension between the two that makes for a compelling relationship. Kat and Amber’s intense passion and chemistry reaches its height after they escape to the city from a party where Nic begins to act weirdly. I was captured as I watched Kat take Amber for a wild night, stealing expensive dinners from an abominable restaurant owner, drinking too much, and dancing together in a packed nightclub while fighting off creeps who drew too close. Finally the tension was satisfyingly broken in a spontaneous and passionate love scene amidst a dark alleyway.
Following this night, Amber’s indecision about whether she likes Kat or Nic leads to anger between the two women. Unfortunately, in a surprising and disappointing act of poor judgment, Kat is cut from the rest of the movie and never shown again. Omitting the best character from the second half of the film left me and others highly disappointed.
Co-Director and writer Jeff Baena, who along with Alison Brie took the stage for a Q&A after the movie, tried to defend his decision to cut Kat in front of a questioning crowd. When asked, “What happened to Aubrey’s character?” Baena responded, “We didn’t feel like it was philosophically, legally, or morally responsible for that character who was doing lots of messed up things […] to come back […] It didn’t feel like it would be the best message for the movie.” Yes, Kat played a role in bringing women to Nic, but the fact that the writers were more worried how this affects the moral of the story than they were with developing their most entertaining and complicated character, and her interesting and enticing relationship with Amber, is unfortunate. Baena, Brie, and the rest of the writers had good intentions and ideas, but they horribly botched this decision by leaving one of the most compelling storylines to rot and wither away.
The timing in the film was also questionable. For three quarters of the movie, we have slow, calculated buildups as Amber and Nic’s plotlines form. It’s a good balance of laughs, drama, and rising tension that kept me entertained and attached. However, the ending devolves into constant and chaotic twists that unravel the plotline as multiple genre changes are forced into the last twenty minutes of the movie. Amber sprints through the mansion and it’s hotel discovering a murderer, dead people lying in their beds, a massive sex party, and twenty Italian boars trampling the party goers.
If this film sounds random, imagine watching almost an entire movie that was smartly paced and powerful, only to have it end with twenty minutes of fever dream that has you questioning your sanity. On top of this, it was extremely dissatisfying to only be given one or two minutes of explanation wrapping up every plot point or storyline. The quality of the first half of the film deserved more than this ending.
In spite of some serious flaws, from start to finish, Spin Me Round’s comedic premises and attention grabbing relationships keep you focused on the screen and will leave you with many points to argue about and unravel with your friends. Though the movie’s flaws stop it from being great, it’s still a good time, and for that it’s worth a watch.