Taking a trip to an Italian villa sounds like a dream, right? Well, in Jeff Baena’s Spin Me Round, things couldn’t be more different. A young woman on the lookout for love and her Eat Pray Love moment finds herself living out a nightmare of budget hotels and deceiving men.
Having its world premiere at SXSW 2022, this comedy film marks the second collaboration between Baena and Alison Brie. The two previously co-wrote the script for Netflix’s psychological drama Horse Girl. While that movie was praised for its authenticity and heavy themes, Spin Me Round leaves audiences with a significant disconnect from the characters and its nonsensical plot.
The movie tells the story of Brie’s Amber, a restaurant manager who is awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to meet the spokesperson and chefs of the acclaimed Olive Garden-esque chain, Tuscan Grove. Along with a group of selected managers, played by many of Baena’s go-to actors, including Debby Ryan and Molly Shannon, she is whisked away to Italy under the guise of learning about the country’s cuisine from the restaurant’s greatest.
The tension begins to build as their passports are confiscated for the remainder of the trip, and they are warned of a strict curfew because of crime and “dangerous boars.” Unfortunately, what comes off as a promising foundation quickly dissolves into a whole lot of nothing.
Spin Me Round review
The high-level managers are quickly introduced to the Tuscan Grove head Nick Martucci (Alessandro Nivola) and his mysterious assistant Kat (Aubrey Plaza). Plaza stays in her comfort zone, playing the rebellious right-hand woman as a monotone, standoffish woman who effortlessly strikes undeniable chemistry with her boss’s target, Amber.
Nick ups his charm when he meets with the group of young attractive women, plus the two “girl-named” male managers, Zach Woods’ hilariously obtuse Dana and Tim Heidecker’s forgettable Fran. Nick presses kisses on the women’s cheeks, chalking it up to a traditional Italian greeting, before accidentally smacks lips with Amber — instantly causing the love-seeking woman to fall head over heels.
As Nick and Amber grow closer together, Spin Me Round emphasizes the sexual tension between Amber and Kat through longing looks, shoulder touches, and quick banter. It teases a love triangle that fails to reach its peak before dwindling into a swift, drunken alley hook-up which lends itself to nothing but its male-gazey sex value.
Throughout the movie, audiences aren’t rewarded with beautiful gazes of culinary dishes and the Italian landscape or an addictive love story. Instead, they are left hungry for literally anything that isn’t just Molly Shannon being reduced to a series of outlandish costume changes (simply underutilized comedic talent).
Should you watch Spin Me Round?
With its all-star cast, rounded out with appearances by Lil Rey Howery and Fred Armisen, and production by the Duplass Brothers, hopes were high for this one. However, the comedy never seemed to find its grounding, and the plot had no follow-through.
Even the performances were lacking, much to the script’s failure as every character lacked in nuance. Despite Plaza and Brie being at the forefront of the movie’s promotion, Plaza only makes a few inconsequential appearances and completely disappears by the third act.
Shannon and Plaza aren’t the only two wasted talents. Saturday Night Live’s Ego Nwodim appears in a supporting role as Amber’s best friend. She’s only seen hyping her pal through short video calls: the most accurate definition of the token Black best friend trope. Her few scenes occupied maybe two minutes of the movie and were only used as filler — it seems like they could’ve been cut, rather than the advertised scooter scene (seen in the picture above) that never makes its way onto the screen.
Spin Me Round leaves its audience waiting. It offers no concrete plot or fulfilling resolution. In its attempt to be unpredictable, it accomplishes the exact opposite, with the entirety of Spin Me Round feeling like the longest first 30 minutes of a slow-build flick. It was a never-ending waiting game with an amateurish conclusion that could easily be called from the get-go. Rather than using sex as a complementary plot device, it was simply a ploy to display predatory touches and sexuality as comedic relief.
While viewers may give the flick a few cheap chuckles, it is destined to resonate as a directionless watch.
Check out our SXSW 2022 review of The Prank.
Spin Me Round made its world premiere at SXSW on March 12. It is currently seeking distribution.