in

Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar

****
2021

‘…there’s plenty who will dig this silly, seemingly spontaneous, and genuinely pleasing film…’

Kristen Wiig is up in the impressively regular stream of funny women who have come through the Saturday Night Live ranks; her star vehicle Bridesmaids is a bona fide comedy classic. Her co-writer was Annie Mumolo, and Barb and Star is their follow-up film working and now acting together. While Josh Greenbaum’s film is not as disciplined or cohesive as Bridesmaids, it’s a joyfully silly, anything-goes film that would have been a healthy blockbuster counter-programmer in the lost summer of 2020; Barb and Star’s adventures finally arrive on streaming well positioned to blow the winter blues away.

Wiig has taken a number of more serious roles since ascending the heights via comedy; The Skeleton Twins, Hateship, Loveship and Welcome to Me all have a comic angle, but will frustrate those looking for easy laughs. Ambitions as an actress are put aside here for a surreal two-hander comedy that tries to wring a laugh a minute in the style of Airplane and Austin Powers. Even if all the gags don’t land, the endless invention should be applauded. Barb and Star lose their furniture-store jobs and decide to take a holiday to stretch their wings; as two deeply unadventurous types, a trip to Florida is about as wild as things get. But once installed at the Vista Del Mar, a rampant night of pills and three-way sex with the gormless Edgar Paget (Jamie Dornan) throws a spanner in the works of their long and established friendship; which of the girls will land this hunky man, and will their friendship survive?

Patchy isn’t a problem when there’s killer lines in the mix; Barb’s reflective thoughts on Kermit the Frog (who cameos here) hit the mark; eating frogs legs is cruel because he really needs them for riding that bike, right? Mermaids, culottes, submarines, cameos (Reba McIntyre, Andy Garcia), musical sequences, outlandish slapstick, Richard Cheese; Wiig and Mumalo throw the kitchen sink at making us laugh, and enough of it sticks. In particular, the previously lumpen Dornan continues his break-out from 50 Shades ignominy, with a knock-out song for seagulls that hits the notes of a Flight of the Conchords pastiche; Edgar’s Prayer is destined to be a YouTube favourite.

Some critics have complained about the throwaway nature of Barb and Star’s adventures, is if comedy was something that was inferior to drama. I could think of a dozen po-faced awards movies from 20/21 that seem to me to be utterly disposable, but I’m looking forward to seeing Barb and Star several more times. Audiences will self-select, and this kind of surreal French and Saunders/Ab Fab humour isn’t for everyone. But there’s plenty who will dig this silly, seemingly spontaneous, and genuinely pleasing film; moving forward, we need about ten more of these a year just to get by….

Thanks to Lionsgate for access to this title, out now on streaming in the UK and elsewhere.

Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. I remember seeing the trailer for this (in the movie theater….oh, those were the days!) and thinking it was the absolute worst trailer I had ever seen. All I remember is that it was just showing the tops of their heads. I like a silly, stupid comedy every now and then. A movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

    • Now, that trailer is truly one of the worst I’ve ever seen. If Mumolo is in the film, just show us her face? I had to make sure I didn’t use that trailer, because it makes the film look like the star is a criminal who cannot be identified. I’m not sure what kind of bait and switch they thought they were pulling off, but the film is more than decent, and didn’t need such half-assed publicity!

    • Yup, that’s the correct answer. She seems much more on form in this context, a home game for her…

  2. Sounds a find. Thanks for finding it. Would certainly be refreshing to catch Wiig as something as off-the-wall as this rather than the portentous Wonder Woman, although she was the best thing in it.

    • Wiig doesn’t make enough silly movies, but this one will do for a bit. Would have been $50 million+ at the US box office if it wasnt for the pandemic…

  3. I thought Dornan was really good in The Fall. Didn’t see any of the 50 Shades movies. Audiences self-select, as you say.

    Pretty confident I’ll be passing on this one too. Looks kind of low on the body count.

Leave a Reply

Loading…

0