Co-writers of the hysterical buddy comedy ‘Bridesmaids’ (2011), Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, have teamed up once again in ‘Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, a campy, nonsensical little comedy that’s light on the cleverness and lousy with the silly.
This would have gone farther and gotten more play as a skit or a short film, but the decision to try and bleed almost two hours out of this root was the beginning of where things went wrong. No amount of special guest appearances made will help, but come to think of it, they certainly didn’t hurt. I especially liked Andy Garcia’s appearance as the wise and all-knowing Tommy Bahama.
But I digress. Barb and Star are Mumolo and Wiig respectively. They are lifelong friends from the Midwest, and, speak with incredibly thick accents that are heavy on the nasal sound. An example of their accent is that they’re from an area where, in a conversation, you wouldn’t be able to tell if they were saying Dawn or Don as the two names would sound exactly the same. Now imagine these ladies both saying Barb or Star every two seconds. It’s actually quite funny coming from these two gals. There’s something appealing about the two characters and how they interact with one another that you will find charming. You can tell they know one another well.
Barb and Star have been fired from their jobs and, reluctant to do so as they’re not the adventurous types, it’s suggested that it’s time they take a vacation in an attempt to get their ‘shimmer’ back. They don’t have much in their lives now except for the ‘talking club’ they’re both quite fond of. Sadly, it’s run by Debbie, (SNL’s Vanessa Bayer) who’s a bit of a control freak. She takes the job of keeping watch over the members, seeing to it the three simple rules they have in place are respected. Barb and Star learn this the hard way and are out, making their decision to go to Vista Del Mar that much simpler.
By this point, we’ve also met the evil Sharon Gordon Fisherman, (Wiig in a Wig) and her second, Edgar Pagét, played by Jamie Dornan. Edgar is hopelessly in love with Sharon, yet that love is not returned. Unable to care about anything but revenge, Sharon sends him to destroy Vista Del Mar, a small town filled with cruel people and painful memories that ruined her life. Barb and Star get to the hotel around the same time as the hunky Edgar. They all share a massive cocktail, getting so drunk that they wake up in an Edgar sandwich.
Most of the scenes centered around Edgar are genuinely, and at this point, surprisingly, amusing with Dornan doing a splendid job of handling the mirth and virility needed for the role. Both women want to know him better which has them doing things without the other for the first time ever. Is this what they want?
I’ve told you about Sharon who, by the way, has an underground lair in a rather Dr. Evil from ‘Austin Powers’ sort of way, but have I mentioned the musical numbers? I’m telling you about them now so you understand that the film has no real direction. About halfway in, you’ll notice the gags that land are few and far between. We open with the definition of what Culottes were not given the reason why until much later. Had the definition never been given, the laughter the filmmakers were seeking might have come to pass. Educating us on pants plays down to your audience who did not need to be told what calf-length trousers are called. It’s things like this that disappoint.
You’re rooting for ‘Barb and Star’s’ success and hope that things pick up but the storyline that includes Sharon slows the films pacing and turns a farce you should be laughing with into the target you’re laughing at. The individual performances, the chemistry between the longtime friends, and Dornan is what keeps you interested in seeing how everything turns out but hearing a lounge singer wail on about how much he loves boobies will make you want to turn this off and instead go watch ‘Bridesmaids’ again.
Yes, you will laugh at times, so if you love this cast, I’d say it’s worth a watch. It’s sort of fun. That said, you will notice that it’s just too ridiculous for its own good.
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Director: Josh Greenbaum
Writers: Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig
Stars: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan
Running Time: 1h 47m