BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR ½
2021, PG-13, 107 mins.
Kristen Wiig as Star / Annie Mumolo as Barb / Jamie Dornan as Edgar Paget / Wendi McLendon-Covey as Mickey Revelet / Damon Wayans, Jr. as Darlie Bunkle / Kwame Patterson as George the Bartender / Reyn Doi as Yoyo / Michael Hitchcock as Gary / Phyllis Smith as Delores / Vanessa Bayer as Debbie / Rose Abdoo as Bev / Fortune Feimster as Pinky / Andy García as Tommy Bahama / Reba McEntire as TrishDirected by Josh Greenbaum / Written by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR is like a perpetually weird and unimaginable hodgepodge of THE GOLDEN GIRLS meets any random Elvis Presley travelogue musical meets AUSTIN POWERS. If it's not one of the silliest films that I've seen as of late then I don't know what is.
Buuuuuuuuuut.....this is also one of the funniest films I've seen in an awfully long time, and once you submit to all of its eccentric oddness as a wacky, go-for-absolute-broke comedy then it becomes awful hard to break free from its hypnotic vortex.
The film was written by and stars Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo (who previously worked together on BRIDESMAIDS) and features the titular Nebraska residing BFFs journeying to a Florida resort for a vacation that ends up with them becoming embroiled in the nefarious plot of a super villain with mad delusions of granduer.
And trust me when
I say this: That just barely scratches the service here.
Barb (Mumolo) and
Star (Wiig) are the type of big haired, middle aged Midwesterners that
feel like they just got yanked from the set of FARGO.
They're awfully nice souls that are inseparable and literally do
everything together. Hell,
they even work the same "dream" job at the IKEA-like store,
which they love, I think, because it affords them ample downtime to talk
about things of the most hysterically random and mundane (one early
conversation between them starts with Star revealing, "I had a dream
that I made love with the guy on the Pringles can," which Barb
pleasantly responds, "Which flavor of Pringles?").
Both adore each other's constant company, which acts as a security
blanket of sorts due to one being a divorcee and the other being a widow.
Star does want some adventure away from her home and the
"hottest job in town," but Barb is a bit more reticent.
One day the pair bumps into a mutual friend that seems to have a newfound radiant glow about her, which is the product of her recently discovering and attending a posh resort in the mystical land of...Florida. Vista Del Mar, to be precise. Both want to throw caution to the wind and journey out to this hallowed ground, a much needed getaway that they both hope will allow for them to reclaim their lost "shimmer." They take the plunge and upon arriving at Vista Del Mar they feel like they've been transported to a whole other planet altogether and begin to take and drink in every sight. Sporting their best pair of culottes (just Google search it), Barb and Star embrace every new day with a childlike glee, which leads to both of them having a duo meet-cute with the hunky Edgar Paget (Jamie Dornan) at the resort bar one night, but little do they know that this seemingly single thirtysomething hunk is actually the employee (and hopeful future lover) of Sarah Gordon Richardson (also played by Wiig), an egomaniacal baddie with world dominating proclivities that wants to eradicate Florida from this Earth via a swarm of killer genetically altered mosquitoes.
with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads were not on loan from
BARB AND STAR GO
TO VISTA DEL MAR feels like its marrying together about a half dozen
different types of films and genres at the same time.
I kind of say that as a sly compliment.
It has the sort of carefree breeziness of the BILL
AND TED entries alongside the ultra broad parody elements of an
AIRPLANE inspired spoof further lathered in with Broadway musicals
(there's many scenes involving just about everyone breaking out into song
and dance, more on that in a bit) and Hope and Crosby buddy road trip
director Joss Greenbaum and writers Wiig and Mumolo never make this film
feel like a derivative kitchen sink affair. The characters are so
uniquely and endearingly quirky, sweet tempered, and amusingly naive about
seemingly everything around them. Wiig
and Mumolo reportedly created the characters of Barb and Star years ago,
and when they appear on screen together - and within minutes - the pair
have an ethereal comic chemistry and timing that really shows and carries
the day. The duo have this
almost indescribable manner of changing conversation topics at the
relative drop of hat. "God,
it's so funny to think that right now all the raccoons in the world are
sleeping right now," Star hilariously contemplates at one point.
The ad libbing in this film is kind of a thankless work of art, and
it takes special talent with built in history like Wiig and Mumolo to pull
this off successfully. One of
the sublimely uproarious pleasures of BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR is
just being in these characters' company to experience just how fanatical
they are when it comes to friendship.
Some comedies are
lucky to have a small handful of laugh out loud moments, but BARB AND STAR
GO TO VISTA DEL MAR contains far too many to count.
An early sequence showcasing the ladies arriving at the resort
becomes this glitzy, glossy, colorful, and invitingly gaudy musical number
that involves nearly every worker and hotel guest prancing around and
singing in unison. There are
even moments of gut busting amusement when the film segues back and forth
to the other lady friends that Barb and Star left behind, who try to
entertain themselves with soul crushing chat parties ("I like looking
at wicker, but don't like sitting in it," of the gals sheepishly
explains at one point). There's
one long, inspired, and extended riff of Barb and Star talking at length
about one of their imaginary creations named Trish, which contains an
obsessive amount of detail and back story ("To me, a woman named
Trish is someone you can count on!").
One of the funniest scenes has to be Edgar and the ladies drunkenly
partying the night away while gyrate dancing to a techno re-mix of a
classic Celine Dion song from one of the biggest movies ever.
Oh, and there are big laughs revolving around a conversation that
Star has with a crab whose voice sounds an awful lot like Morgan Freeman.
I mean, you really just have to go with this film and embrace its
unendingly goofy and nonsensical energy.
Let's go back to
Jamie Dornan for a minute. He
was, of course, the star of the FIFTY
SHADES OF GREY franchise and, in my mind, was a charisma black
hole in those D-grade trashy films. In
BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR, however, he's a complete performance
revelation and frequently is the source of the best guffaws that the film
has to offer. I love it when
a serious actor is allowed free reign to simple chill out, loosen up, and
just have fun with his own image and play a role that doesn't require an
ounce of serious thought at all. And
Dornan, to his very credit, seems commendably equal to the task of
embracing the limitless shenanigans of his part and the film built around
him as fluidly as Wiig and Mumolo, which hits its stride in one of the
best montages featuring the Irish heartthrob looking absolutely outlandish
in his own 80s inspired music video (he sings, prances around, and
melancholically speaks to seagulls about his love life issues).
This is built off of the recurring subplot/gag of this man - who
could literally have any woman that he wants at any time - hopelessly
pining for Wiig's wicked villain (who looks like some sort of
androgynously kooky creation from a Johnny Depp/Tim Burton team-up fever
dream). It should be noted
that Wiig is equally funny as the chief antagonist here in many moments
involving her trying to politely fend off Edgar's puppy dog-like
flirtation. She doesn't have
time for love, though, in her Florida destruction plot.
This probably has a lot to do with the fact that she was shot out
of a cannon as a child by Floridian bullies as a prank. That would
scar just about any child.