In Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar, two lifelong middle-aged best friends (Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) decide to venture out of their small Midwestern town for the first time ever.
That’s the full official logline, but I feel like you need to know the plot of Barb and Star also involves an evil plot to kill the residents of Vista Del Mar with genetically modified mosquitoes. The mastermind behind the plan is also played by Wiig, whose henchman (Jamie Dornan) is in love with her. Until he falls for Star (Wiig again) and starts to reconsider his evil ways, throwing the mosquito-murder plan into jeopardy.
If it sounds absurd… it is. In fact, if I had to pick one word to describe Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar, it’s just that: absurd.
But I happen to love absurd humor, so this movie really works for me.
The movie won’t appeal to everyone (but honestly, when it comes to comedy, when isn’t that the case?). In a lot of ways, it has the energy of an SNL sketch drawn out and come to life. Or maybe a series of sketches, tied together by mad coincidences and sheer force of will.
There’s a couple of grand music numbers, and a lounge singer who might be my favorite character. Talking Club, banana boats, a Shrimp Queen, and a human cannon. Tommy Bahama acts as a spirit guide. Morgan Freeman voices a depressed crab, and Reba McEntire saves the day as Trish. (I really can’t explain Trish right now. It’s a whole thing.)
Mumolo and Wiig tap into Barb and Star effortlessly, and you never doubt their bond for a second. They’re both incredibly funny, so it’s no surprise they can pull laughs out of any scene. I don’t think I’ve seen Dornan in any comedic roles before, but he fit the bill quite well too, really throwing himself into the physicality of it. Sharon Gordon Fisherman (the evil mastermind) has an almost Austin Powers-esque energy to her villainy. And the events of the film jump quickly from one to the next, never giving you time to linger in the absurdity of it. Like Barb and Star, you just have to learn to go with the flow.
Barb and Star is also a movie weirdly suited for quarantine. The production design really immerses you in the colorful, carefree world of Vista Del Mar. It does actually feel like being on vacation. And after being stuck at home for so long, that can’t be bad.
Barb and Star: The Bottom Line
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar won’t be the trip for everyone. But if you love absurd humor and are willing to just roll with it, it’s a pretty good time.
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar is available to rent now on Amazon.