Directed by: Josh Greenbaum
Premise: Lifelong friends Barb and Star (Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) vacation at the Vista Del Mar resort where the henchman (Jamie Dornan) of an international criminal plans a terrorist attack involving genetically engineered mosquitos.
What Works: While on Saturday Night Live, Kristen Wiig specialized in playing awkward and quirky characters like the Target Lady and Penelope. Wiig and her writing partner Annie Mumolo have created Barb and Star, a pair of middle aged Midwestern friends who are of a piece with Wiig’s SNL characters. Affecting extreme Midwestern accents and dressed in tacky outfits, Wiig and Mumolo commit to their parts and whatever else may be said of this film, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar has the distinction of being a unique piece of filmmaking. What’s most impressive about this film is how consistent it is in its absurd style. Barb and Star aren’t really oddballs. The whole world of Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar has the same surreal pitch and it’s impressive just how unified everything is in this film from the performances to the cinematography to the art direction.
What Doesn’t: Although these are original characters, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is reminiscent of movies adapted from Saturday Night Live skits. Unfortunately, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is less Wayne’s World and more MacGruber. Like so many of those SNL films, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar overextends its concept. There’s just not enough here to sustain a feature length movie and the film is repetitious and monotonous. It’s also not very funny. The movie is weird for its own sake but there’s not much else to it. Much of the joke of Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is in the title characters’ Midwestern earnestness. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumalo make funny sounding accents as they “ooh and ahh” at the opulence of the resort and the ladies are shoehorned into a love triangle with a character played by Jamie Dornan. The actor had previously played Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and Dornan continues to be a vacuum of charisma. He goes through the entire film with a look of dumb confusion. The whole joke of his casting is that this Hollywood Ken doll would fall for a Midwestern schlub.
DVD extras: Commentary track, featurettes, blooper reel, and deleted scenes.
Bottom Line: Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar will only appeal to a very specific audience, probably the same viewers who turned Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion into a cult title. The movie’s weirdness and style will probably play for them but this film is overlong and not very funny.
Episode: #848 (April 18, 2021)