Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (aka Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
I’m tempted to keep Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar as much of a secret as possible. It’s not just because the film is so damn funny that I hope everyone who watches it is in for a big surprise but that I doubt anyone would believe me if I described what goes down in the movie. However, I’m well aware it takes a lot more than just declaring a film funny to garner attention. So if you need an extra push to go see what is easily one of the funniest comedies of 2021, read on for the spoilers.
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo play the titular Star and Barb, two middle-aged women who are best friends with boundless energy. But they’re stuck in a rut within their small town and need a change of pace. They both take a vacation to Vista Del Mar and find themselves amazed with what their Florida getaway has to offer. They may even find some hot guy like, say, Jamie Dornan, for a vacation romance.
At the same time, and I’m warning you this is where things get bizarre, there’s an evil mastermind who has set her sights on destroying Vista Del Mar. Sharon Fisherman (also played by Wiig) is an albino supervillain who is campy enough to exist in a superhero movie. From her underground fortress, she conspires with her top spy Edgar Paget (Dornan), her lesser spy Darlie Bunkle (Damon Wayans Jr.), and her kidnapped child companion Yoyo (Reyn Doi) to set off a bomb that will attract killer mosquitos to Vista Del Mar. She plans to do so at a seafood festival that had previously embarrassed her by both crowning her as the queen of the festival and launching her out of a canon. Of course, Barb and Star find themselves unwittingly thrown into this plot as they start a love triangle with Edgar.
Now, that’s just the basics of the premise. What transpires on this wild and unorthodox adventure is just too surreal, to sum up in words. There is a piano player at the hotel who specializes in lyrics about boobs and friends from high school who died. There are musical sequences about hotel services and seagulls. There’s a water goddess dubbed Trish who Deus ex Machina’s the hell out of this story. There’s a talking crab impersonating Morgan Freeman who offers advice before narrating his way into death. There are submarines, turtles, and a ridiculous midwest gathering of The Talking Club, where you apparently can’t swear unless it’s the F word.
This is one of those kitchen sink movies that try to throw as much wild stuff as it can at the screen in a frantic manner of madcap humor. And, wow, does it work. So many jokes just hit the sweet spot of humor, much of which is owed to Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo who wrote the screenplay. They also bring great enthusiasm and character to their roles, playing themselves up a midwest middle-aged woman equal to Beavis and Butthead. They’re stupid, sure, but they want the best for each other and struggle to try to find a friendly means of saving the day and their connections.
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar is one wacky comedy that is so strange that it works well in its cartoonish means of trying to concoct a crazed picture of unpredictable silliness. I could dissect the perfection of such comedy but it’d only be to find better words to describe how really, really funny this movie just happens to be. But, hey, screw it: This movie is really, really funny.