‘Spin Me Round’ SXSW Review: Jeff Baena Directs Aubrey Plaza And Alison Brie Wild Adventure In Italy

Spin Me Round is an indie comedy having its world premiere at SXSW 2022—directed by Jeff Baena (The Little Hours) and co-written by the film’s star Alison Brie. Alongside Brie, the movie also stars Alessandro Nivola, Aubrey Plaza, Debby Ryan, Zach Woods, Molly Shannon, Ayden Mayeri, Tim Heidecker, and Ben Sinclair. While the film doesn’t always hit the mark, the dialogue and comedic timing of this talented cast make it an entertaining enough watch.

Brie is Amber, the Bakersfield, California franchise manager of the Italian chain eatery Tuscany Grove where she’s worked for years. Labeled as an exemplary employee, she’s chosen to attend an all-expenses trip to the company’s gorgeous “institute” outside of Italy, including meeting the restaurant chain’s wealthy and charismatic owner and CEO Nick (Nivola).

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When Amber arrives, she meets Fran (Heidecker), Susie (Ryan), Jen (Mayeri), Dana (Woods), and Deb (Shannon) from around the country. Together they meet Ben (Sinclair), who serves as the group’s guide, in addition to meeting the CEO’s assistant Kat (Plaza). Something is very wrong with this group of people from the start, and Amber seems to be the only one living in reality. This attracts the attention of Nick, and he soon singles her out for some personal quality time. The two spend the day together on his yacht, and it appears that something is blooming between them. At least that’s what Amber thinks.

He invites her to a large house party with some of his wealthy friends, and this is when Amber begins to feel that something is off. This group is overly affectionate toward one another, which makes her uncomfortable. Before things get out of control, she’s whisked away by Kat and warned not to trust the CEO. When all the women in the Tuscany Grove group begin to go missing, Amber intends to unravel the mystery of it all before she’s next to disappear.

Spin Me Round is an apt title for the film as Beana and Brie have created a wacky comedy of errors. Miscommunications abound as this group of wannabe chefs and their chaperones experience all sorts of twists, turns, lies, and half-truths to satisfy Nick’s ego. Most of them aren’t too self-aware, but they are passionate about their jobs and making the most of their time in Italy.

The writers do good to create a sense of anxiety. The atmosphere, while comical, is also ominous. Nick is a master manipulator, and the rest are oblivious to what might be unfolding before their eyes. You know disaster is right around the corner, but waiting for the big reveal is where the issues lie as the film takes too long to get to the point. The full revelation doesn’t come until 20 minutes before the movie is over, and while the events are unexpected, they’re simultaneously anticlimactic. There was an opportunity to make the conclusion more intriguing, but once the audience knows what’s up, the movie ends without further exploration, and viewers are left hanging.

Overall, Spin Me Round has tons of fun moments, but the third act stifles the narrative which drags the momentum down, and ultimately prevents this relatively good movie from becoming a great one.

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