Saturday, February 13, 2021


Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar is silly. Just plain silly. They don’t make them this loopy and loony and freewheeling good vibes nonsensical every day. It stars Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, co-writers, too, reuniting ten years after their hilarious Bridesmaids. That movie was a hilarious escalation of comedic scenarios in a conventional character-based way, a look at women’s friendships in a pressure-cooker of milestones. This one is more like an all-human Muppet movie with Austin Powers energy seeping in around the edges. It’s flat-out absurd in every second. Yet, it’s still about women, about best friends navigating aging and life changes. Barb and Star are melodiously accented Nebraskans fired from their jobs at a chain furniture store who decide to shake things up with a trip to a middle-aged paradise resort on the Florida coast. There they both fall in lust with a strapping secret agent (Jamie Dornan) who happens to be working for an underwater supervillain (Wiig in pasty pale makeup and a tragic hairdo) plotting to attack the local shrimp-based beauty pageant with killer mosquitos. So that’s going on, but really it’s just as much about: getting blackout drunk and dancing to a club remix of “My Heart Will Go On,” buying tacky seashell bracelets that are a little too sharp, sneaking out a window onto a pool raft and drifting past your friend practicing her calligraphy on the porch. Wacky developments, goofy voices, random asides, and daffy design abounds, with time for both funny background signs (a dumpy motel advertises “Some TVs”) and colorful dance sequences. (Dornan, freed from Fifty Shades, cuts loose with a ballad he addresses to some random seagulls, the highlight of the picture.) This jumble of nonsense is carried along simply by the strength of the fun the performers themselves seem to be having, a sense of wanting to keep the good times rolling just because everyone involved can effectively communicate just how enjoyable they find their own nonsense. It plays like one of those sui generis oddities — a Hot Rod, or Cabin Boy, or Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion — where comedic voices are given free reign to just do whatever. If you can get even a little bit on the wavelength it’s mostly a blast, even as it starts to wear a little thin in the back half. Wiig and Mumolo are confident enough in their own sense of humor to pull it off.

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