Review by Sean Boelman
The SXSW Film Festival often showcases some of the most bizarre and quirky films that will play in the festival circuit all year, even outside of the Midnighters sidebar, and Spin Me Round will satisfy that itch. Jeff Baena’s movie thrives in its weirdness, with a wicked sense of humor along with an interesting, if occasionally shallow exploration of its themes.
The film follows the manager of a chain Italian restaurant who is selected to attend her company’s retreat in Florence, where she gets the opportunity to meet the charismatic owner of the company, sending her on an unexpected adventure. It manages to be both inconsequential and extremely twisty at the same time, and the result is very entertaining.
It’s clear that the movie is meant to say something about sexual harrassment and discrimination in the workplace, but the film’s plot is so goofy that it is hard to take its very important message seriously. And the ending definitely sends some mixed signals that could be misconstrued by some viewers as inappropriate or even malicious.
Another issue with the movie is that it seems to stretch on for a bit too long. There are several points in the film which could have served as the ending, and yet it keeps adding on twist after twist. And while the unexpected changes in direction that the movie takes are undeniably entertaining, it can be a bit much.
The thing that works so well about this film is its eclectic characters. The protagonist is compelling enough, but it is the supporting players that make the movie shine. It very much has the vibe of a bunch of famous people getting together to do whatever the hell they want, but it works because of how talented the cast is.
Alessandro Nivola is the standout in the cast, giving a devilishly charming performance in his role. It’s like the antithesis of his turns in The Art of Self-Defense, proving that he is about as versatile of an actor as they come. Other hilarious parts belong to Zach Woods, Tim Heidecker, and Fred Armisen.
Films like this often feel like little more than an excuse for their cast and crew to take a trip to an idyllic country and get paid for doing it, but that doesn’t feel to be the case here. It’s not some flashy travelogue that uses its gorgeous scenery as a crutch, it’s a genuinely witty and well-timed comedy.
Spin Me Round is not going to be for everyone, much like the rest of Jeff Baena’s work, but it’s the type of wild comedy destined for cult status. The star-studded cast of fan-favorite comedians will get this a fair share of fans.
Spin Me Round screened at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival, which ran March 11-19.