Alison Brie on the Weird Experiences That Inspired Spin Me Round (Video)

Alison Brie and Jeff Baena, co-writers of the new comedy Spin Me Round, like to bring their own experiences to their collaborations. And Brie says her own interactions with men in the past helped inform their story of an Italian restaurant manager who catches the eye of a potentially creepy CEO on a corporate retreat.

Early in the film, we see that Amber, played by Brie, has trouble setting boundaries when a fellow guest at the retreat (Molly Shannon) borrows some of her clothes and horrendously overshares. Things get stranger when Amber catches the eye of the CEO’s assistant — or is she an accomplice? — played by Aubrey Plaza. Soon Amber is going on exciting — or risky? — excursions with the CEO, played by Alessandro Nivola.

Brie says she only realized while talking about ideas for the film with Baena, who directed it, that some of her past interactions with men were perhaps less funny than she initially remembered. Did writing Spin Me Round help her process those interactions?

“Not consciously, no,” she says in an interview you can watch above. “I don’t think in my experiences writing with Jeff I’m like I gotta work out my shit!” she says. “But it is definitely interesting the way that perspective can change over time and the way you look at stories. I’ll share stuff with Jeff and even mid-retelling of a story that I’ve always been like, ‘This is such a funny story! About this date I went on with this man who used to be my teacher!’ … halfway through you’re sort of like, ‘This is maybe a mildly traumatic story.’”

But they can still be funny, she adds. “Suffusing it with specifics from my life I think makes it easier for us. Like we’re not trying to put a commentary on it. We’re sort of just able to show a behavior and a power dynamic and show these different kinds of things without having an agenda.”

Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza in the corporate retreat comedy Spin Me Round, written by Brie and directed by Jeff Baena. Courtesy of IFC.

This is the second writing collaboration between Brie and Baena in which she stars and he directs. In 2020’s Horse Girl, which premiered at Sundance, Brie drew on her grandmother’s struggle with schizophrenia to tell a story of an isolated young woman who can’t tell what’s real.

In Spin Me Round, Brie again doesn’t know what to believe. But this time, the situation plays out comically, not tragically. Baena notes everything about the CEO’s motives feels shaky — because Spin Me Round takes place just as things are falling apart for the annual retreat and wherever it conceals.

“You’re watching what was once a well-oiled machine start to crumble,” he says. “You’re seeing this program at its worst, basically.”

The film originated with Baena reading about a real-life program in which an American chain restaurant with an Italian-theme invited top managers to learn about food, wine and culture — but ended up disappointing some of the guests.

“The person who wrote the article thought they were going to be staying in this amazing villa that you see on their website, but really it’s this dirty dorm. … They were going to tour the countryside, and they kind of just were stuck in this dorm.” “I thought that was a really funny setup. You have these expectations and they’re completely dashed. And then we decided to embellish that a little bit.”

Amber, played by Alison Brie, prepares for a big night out Spin Me Round. Courtesy of IFC.

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