Friday, August 19, 2022

Spin Me Round: Comedy Scored by Pino Donaggio

You will learn more watching a few hours of the Food Network than from attending this casual Italian restaurant chain’s special managers’ training workshop, but it has the distinct advantage of being in Italy. That definitely interests Amber, who has never been out of Bakersfield. She hopes to find romance in Italy, but stumbles across trouble in Jeff Baena’s Spin Me Round, which opens today in New York.

Initially, it seems like there is a bit of a bait-and-switch going on with the managerial seminar. They were supposed to stay in founder Nick Martucci’s villa, but instead they are stuck in a strip mall budget inn. However, when Amber catches Martucci’s eye, he tries to whisk her off her feet. His loyal assistant Kat facilitates his courtship, but she also shows an interest in Amber as well.

Much to Amber’s surprise, all the attention ends just as suddenly as it began. Martucci appears to be romancing other women in the program, while Kat mysteriously disappears. She starts to suspect it is all some sort of sleazy grooming operation, especially when her colleague Dana reveals he and his fellow manager Fran are two of the only men to ever participate in the program. They also both happen to have names commonly associated with women.

has a reasonably promising premise, but it was not sufficiently developed. Frankly, it only really gets funny when Amber and Dana team-up to sleuth out the truth behind their seminar. Alison Brie and Zach Woods bounce off each other nicely in these sequences. However, most of the first half of the film just tries to force laughs out of uncomfortable situations. It does not help that Spin features several thesps whom the dictation-taking entertainment press keeps trying to convince us are funny, but they really aren’t, such as Fred Armisen and Molly Shannon. True to form, they just sap the energy out of Spin.

Weirdly, Brie also has some decent ambiguous chemistry with Aubrey Plaza, portraying Kat, but that comes when the film is still unsure whether it will be a ruckus comedy or a romantic thriller. Maybe it should have gone in the other direction. Regardless, Alessandro Nivola looks rather bored playing Martucci.

The production is classed-up by some scenic Italian locales and a score composed by the legendary Pino Donaggio, but it never fulfills its
Charade-esque potential. Instead, it gets silly, but also surprisingly lurid. Yet, there is never any sumptuous cuisine porn. The elements feel cobbled together, but at least viewers will fully understand the difference between a ragu (made with red wine) and a Bolognese (cooked with white). It has some funny moments, but not enough to recommend Spin Me Round, when it opens today (819) in New York, at the IFC Center.