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Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Review by Rich Cline |
dir Josh Greenbaum
scr Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig
prd Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jessica Elbaum, Margot Hand
with Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr, Vanessa Bayer, Fortune Feimster, Phyllis Smith, Ian Gomez, Michael Hitchcock, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kwame Patterson, Reyn Doi, Reba McIntire
release US/UK 12.Feb.21
21/US Lionsgate 1h47
Is it streaming?
Both a broadly simplistic satire of Middle America and a wacky James Bond pastiche, this movie is goofy enough to be enjoyable as long as you don't engage your brain. It's watchable thanks to an unapologetically bonkers script by up-for-it stars Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. It's too scattershot to be a classic, with action and drama that are painfully corny, but it's camp enough to keep us giggling.
When the beloved Nebraska furniture store where they work closes, Barb and Star (Mumolo and Wiig) spend their severance on a vacation to a Florida beach resort. While revelling in the sunshine, swimming pools and cocktails, they meet Edgar (Dornan), who seems in need of cheering up. After a drunken tryst, Star pursues romance with him, while Barb broadens her horizons. But Edgar is secretly involved in a nefarious plan to attack the resort with murderous mosquitoes. And his villainous albino boss Sharon (also Wiig) is relentless in her mission to right her tormented past.
With their big blow-dries and chirpy attitudes, Barb and Star are caricatures of small-town girls, best friends who are rarely apart. Arriving in Vista Del Mar they're greeted with a full-on musical production number, with even more ridiculous songs to come. Everything is awash in bright colours, and things remain surreally goofy even as the action subplot threatens to take over the more interesting comedy about the bond between these women.
This is wildly over-the-top filmmaking, including the plot and performances. While having a lot of fun, Wiig and Mumolo stir hints of depth beneath the broad caricatures, but never push them too far. Their cheerful optimism is infectious, even if their unending naivete feels implausible. Dornan gleefully plays relatively straight opposite their goofballs, diving into the dopey action and romantic nonsense. And Wayans is amusing but underused as a spy who can't resist delivering spoilers.
Frankly, this feels like another wisp-thin movie based on an absurd SNL comedy sketch, doubling down on the silliness rather than coming together in a way that's engaging or witty. Still, there are a few inspired moments, and some of the most random jokes hit the target, but much of what's on-screen is indulgent zaniness that's only funny if you were there. It's the kind of movie that's fun to watch on an inebriated night out with friends, but it's a shame there's so little to it.
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© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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