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Spin Me Around

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In the lightest and sometimes strangest comedy of the year, Spin Me Round, a manager of Italian Grille (think Olive Garden), Amber (Alison Brie), wins a trip to a corporate immersion program in Italy, enthusiastic about vacating her humdrum life in Bakersfield, Ca. Other winner managers of varying eccentricities are played by top-drawer comic actors Tim Heidecker, Debby Ryan, Zach Woods, Ayden Mayeri, and Molly Shannon.

Her fantasies are of adventure and maybe hookup, maybe love. She gets all three but not as innocent as she thought they might be. Although this is a whimsical comedy, underneath lies writer/director Jeff Baena and writer Alison Brie’s satire of middle-class naivete, ambitions, and the plague of sexual harassment. We can best understand the depression of a pandemic that seemed to deflate our most wishful sailing to a place of dreams.

Given that the exciting adventure of her life may be applying a commercial Alfredo sauce at work to pasta and seeing it “spin around” the microwave, it’s easy to see her being a victim of the rich, handsome chain owner, Nick (Alessandro Nivola). That she doesn’t see lust in the eyes of American expats at a party, who view her as easy pickings, is about the best indicator of her vulnerability.

That she doesn’t pick up on the cheesy way the party host (Fred Amisen) lip-synchs to “The Lady in Red” as she enters the party in her crimson gown is a further hint that Spin Me Around is light fare, and she is not prepared for the absurdity.

With the equally stereotypical Euro-thriller music from composer Pino Donagio, the audience is prepared for the satire of post-Fellini decadence with a dash of humor. The Agatha Christie-like murder speculations lend a further light tone to a story that could have gone into The Twilight Zone.

Spin Me Around is a beautifully photographed bit of fluff, just right for the end of the summer, a pause to reflect on our dreams as they invariably disappoint. Reality bites.

Spin Me Around

Director: Jeff Baena (Horse girl)

Screenplay: Baena, Alison Brie (Horse Girl)

Cast: Brie (The Rental), Aubrey Plaza (Emily the Criminal)

Run Time: 1h 44m

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take out of WCBE 90.5 FM. Contact him at JohnDeSando52@gmail.com

John DeSando holds a BA from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in English from The University of Arizona. He served several universities as a professor, dean, and academic vice president. He has been producing and broadcasting as a film critic on It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics for more than two decades. DeSando received the Los Angeles Press Club's first-place honors for national entertainment journalism.