“Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” Movie Review


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     Some ten years later after teaming up to write the Academy Award nominated screenplay for 2011’s laugh out loud comedy “Bridesmaids”, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo return with a new twist on silliness with “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar."  In addition to penning the script, the duo headlines as the title characters whose outgoing midwestern personas are sure to make you smile.  It’s the kind of film that ignores the rules of conventional plotting and characterization, choosing instead to create its own game plan as the story genre bends everything from the standard Bond style spy flick to the zany Zucker style parodies.  Such an approach means you really will never know what they’ll do next, which is actually what makes the entire experience such a hoot.

     Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) are the very best of friends.  The kind who can live together during their middle aged years, and still chat it up for hours nonstop during a flight from their hometown in Nebraska to central Florida.  All while giggling like teenagers at the constant thought of a make believe person of whom they both share within their respective imaginations.  There’s no question these two are in sync.  And apparently, they’ve never left Nebraska after Star became unceremoniously single when she found out her husband had cheated on her, and Barb lost her husband to cancer.  So after coming to that realization, spurned by their sudden loss of employment when the furniture store they work at closes permanently, they decide to take a long overdue vacation traveling to a posh Florida resort.

     Directed by Josh Greenbaum, the story moves directly into an almost “Austin Powers” like setting and scenario when it is revealed a young paperboy, Yoyo (Reyn Doi), is actually a henchman for an evil powder skinned sun light adverse woman named Sharon (also Kristin Wiig in true Mike Myers fashion).  Along with a would a would be lover, Edgar (Jamie Dornan), and a disposable mad scientist, the group forges ahead with a plan to commit mass murder at an annual Vista Del Mar event by way of deadly controllable mosquitoes.  Yes, really.  All of this is hatched in an evil lair that would certainly meet Dr. Evil’s approval and you begin to understand really fast that this film will not be apologizing for the liberties it has chosen to take.  As much of this seems wholly original, there’s always a backdrop, setting, or character arc that seems oddly familiar.

     But how can you not like Barb and Star?  After all, they may very well be the most likable pair of characters you’ll see in a film all year.  And who’s to say something that makes you feel happy isn’t sorely needed right now?  From the moment they arrive at their Florida resort, where the entire staff breaks out into a lavish and colorful musical number, to the ongoing antics surrounding their chance meeting with Edgar and subsequent lusting after, who remember is on a mission to ensure everyone at the resort is killed, there isn’t a dull moment to be had.  

     Practically every scene shifts to something unusual.  Whether it be a piano player randomly singing a song about his favorite female body part in the resort lounge, or Barb and Star’s squirrel like tendencies to ignore the task at hand in favor of a sea shell kiosk that suddenly catches their eye, you start to wonder if any of this will actually ever conclude in the way one might expect.  It doesn’t, believe me.  And that’s ok, because the story never loses its momentum.  There’s always a new character introduced at just the right time in order to keep you on your toes.  You think a typical love triangle is afoot, but then suddenly the world’s worst covert spy shows up in the form of the bumbling Darlie Bunkle (Damon Wayan’s Jr.) and you’re left guessing again.

     And while this might not work for those with a discriminating taste in film consumption, those who did see merit in films like “Austin Powers”, “The Naked Gun”, and virtually any other spoof type movie, will find the trip with Barb and Star more than worth it.  The film provides an opportunity to yet again see Wiig And Mumolo working at the height of their creative and imaginative powers, providing a much needed break from the onslaught of downer material we’ve all been watching this awards season. “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is colorful, hilarious, and most of all, fun, leaving me to wonder what color culottes they’ll be wearing in the sequel? GRADE: B