Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar Review

Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar
Faced with joblessness, oddball 40-something best friends Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) head off on holiday to the Vista Del Mar resort in Florida. But while there, the pair become embroiled in an evil villain’s (Wiig, again) murderous plot after each falling for her lovelorn henchman (Jamie Dornan).

by Ben Travis |
Published on
Release Date:

16 Jul 2021

Original Title:

Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar

Everything about Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar radiates Big SNL Energy. For one, there’s that gloriously goofy title with its lolloping internal rhyme scheme. For two, there’s legendary SNL alumnus Kristen Wiig playing dual roles opposite her co-screenwriter Annie Mumolo. And then there’s Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig) themselves, a duo of daffy comedic creations that feel so instantly comfortable, assuredly deployed and adaptable to all kinds of bizarro scrapes that they seem to have been ripped right from a viral sketch.

Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar

And yet despite reverberating on a similar comedic frequency to SNL flicks like Wayne’s World and MacGruber — with a string of freewheeling comedy antics hanging loosely on a truly unhinged narrative — Barb And Star didn’t originate in a skit. Instead, they arrive fully formed in Wiig and Mumolo’s first team-up since 2011’s Bridesmaids, and while this follow-up looks unlikely to reshape a genre or garner major awards nominations like its predecessor, it is a frequently hilarious and ceaselessly weird treat — playing in the sort of heavily stylised, semi-stoned surrealism usually occupied by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim.

The laughs come thicker and faster with every passing minute.

Right from its opening text card displaying the dictionary definition of culottes (Barb and Star’s favoured form of casualwear) and an extended sequence in which a delivery boy lip-syncs to Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb’s ‘Guilty’, the film establishes a heightened world that extends over its runtime to include evil lairs, talking crabs, and a murderous maraca-shaking Jamie Dornan. None of that is stranger than the duo themselves, who talk in squeaky, clipped voices (often over the top of each other) and whose closest thing to a catchphrase is a pronunciation of “What?!” that’s near impossible to approximate in written form. That all the wackiness never becomes irritating is down to the endlessly endearing Wiig and Mumolo, whose lightness and likeability carry everything the film throws their way. If comedy isn’t Dornan’s natural register, he at least commits to the chaos – bringing gusto to some of the most out-there scenes.

It helps that Barb And Star is packed with giddy, giggle-worthy gags. It’s hard to say whether it becomes funnier the longer it goes on, or whether it simply takes time to adjust to its idiosyncratic wavelength, but the laughs come thicker and faster with every passing minute. Once Barb and Star reach the Palm Vista Hotel (“Where luxury meets coconuts,” claims the resort minibus), the film becomes an escalating parade of recurring jokes, cameos (comedy musician Richard Cheese pops up three times to sing lounge-jazz songs about boobs, or “shirt potatoes”) and — yes — all-out musical numbers.

The scripted scenes here feel carefully considered, feature-debut director Josh Greenbaum anchoring the lunacy in a way that makes him one to watch. He ensures that Barb And Star is far more than just an improv-fest for its leads, right down to its surprisingly stylish look — creating an audio-visual identity that meshes seamlessly with the comic tone, all over-saturated colours, yacht-rock tunes and kitschy décor.

Frankly, little about it should work — and unless you lean into the weirdness, it won’t. But if you’ve got a soft spot for the Technicolor silliness of Austin Powers, the middle-aged stupidity of Step Brothers, or the so-dumb-it’s-actually-genius quotability of Hot Rod, Vista Del Mar should be your next destination.

A very different take on female friendship than Bridesmaids, this has future cult favourite written all over it. As bright and breezy as a pair of pastel culottes.
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