Director Jeff Baena is no stranger to making films with bizarro elements (Horse Girl, Joshy, The Little Hours), and the wacky, absurdist comedy “Spin Me Round” somehow feels like his tamest project to date. The setup is funny, the comedic premise is solid, and the cast is comprised of accomplished indie actors, but the film offers more general weirdness than actual laughs.
Amber (Alison Brie) is a long time manager of a popular Italian restaurant chain. When she wins the chance to attend the franchise’s educational cooking program in Florence Italy, she can’t contain her excitement. Dreaming of a romantic getaway filled with eligible bachelors and the glamour of gourmet cuisine, Amber discovers the trip is in fact the total opposite. Her co-attendees (Molly Shannon, Zach Woods, Lil Rel Howery) are highly unusual, and she suspects the owner’s mysterious assistant (Aubrey Plaza) is up to something nefarious. Chaos ensues, and Amber’s dream getaway is anything but.
The characters are interesting and well-developed, which add a strong base to Baena’s script (which he co-wrote with Brie). It takes Amber a while to figure out what is going on, as she’s not too bright. The others in the group feel realistic too, which makes the humor relatable. Everyone works well together, making this a total group effort. There isn’t a weak link in the cast.
Where the film isn’t so successful is in its storytelling, which pays more attention to being weird and strange than thinking far enough ahead to craft a cohesive ending. I was unsure where the story would eventually lead, and it heads in several unexpected directions. It works until it doesn’t, and it’s hard to watch and not think of what it could have been.
If you have an affinity for the unusual and ridiculous, there are plenty of outrageous twists and turns that have become a signature of Baena’s films. This oddball movie has a large share of WTF? moments, which makes “Spin Me Round” another good entry in his growing filmography.
By: Louisa Moore