Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: Film Review

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

I love Kristen Wiig and I was so excited to see her leading a movie with her Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo for the first time. I had the highest hopes for their latest co-writing project, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, given how much I loved their work on Bridesmaids, but I’m afraid to report that it’s bad and not funny.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Barb and Star (Mumolo and Wiig respectively) are lifelong friends who live together (in the same bedroom) and work together and basically don’t do anything without the other person. After their workplace closes and they’re booted out of their talking club (they love to talk), they decide they need to do something exciting with their lives so they leave their small town for the first time ever to go on holiday in Vista Del Mar in Florida. While there, they befriend and fall for Edgar (Jamie Dornan) without realising he’s in town to carry out a villainous plot – to kill everyone in Vista Del Mar on behalf of his boss (also Wiig) to get revenge on the people who laughed at her and fired her out of a cannon when she was a child (yes, really).

I don’t usually reveal spoilers but I can’t avoid talking about Wiig’s dual role, which has been kept out of the trailer, IMDb listing, and other marketing materials. Her villain has a striking look, with skin seemingly painted white, overdrawn red lips, a gap tooth, and blunt black bob. She instantly reminded of the poster for the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition. She is ridiculous and her plot is far-fetched and cringeworthy in a similar way to Dr Evil in Austin Powers or Mugatu in Zoolander, but less funny. I preferred Wiig in this role though; I think she does camp evil very well and she was fun to look at.

But we spend most of our time with Barb and Star who are incredibly annoying to listen to after a while – don’t get me started on their pronunciation of “culottes”! The accents Wiig and Mumolo put on are funny at first but soon wear thin. Barb and Star felt like characters that might be created for a short sketch on Saturday Night Live but they can’t sustain a feature. And I’m someone who doesn’t find SNL particularly funny.

The most redeeming and appealing cast member is Dornan and that’s saying something since he’s ridiculous as well. The Edgar scenes were entertaining by virtue of the fact we’re watching Dornan perform in a way we’ve never seen him before. He hasn’t been given the opportunity to do comedy much and he throws himself fully into it and it’s an absolute joy watching him singing and prancing around on a beach during his number Edgar’s Prayer, which has a similar energy to Bet On It from High School Musical 2. Clips of Dornan singing to seagulls, climbing a coconut tree, doing ballerina moves, and shaking maracas are definitely going to go viral on social media. The number is completely unnecessary and bizarre as hell – I said WTF a lot – but it’s the film’s most memorable scene by far.

All this talk of singing and dancing may make you think this is a musical but nope! Outside of lounge singer Richard Cheese (Mark Jonathan Davis) singing about boobies at the piano in their hotel, there is only one other number, an ensemble piece: Palm Vista. They come out of nowhere! But the random musical numbers, the crab that talks like Morgan Freeman (it wasn’t actually him) and a cameo by Reba McEntire as a water spirit called Trish are all perfect examples of how bonkers this film is.

All this random madness might make it seem like Barb and Star is a barrel of laughs but it’s not. So many jokes don’t work – you can’t help but cringe at some of them, especially as they seem to be trying so hard – and I didn’t laugh out loud much at all, although I found Dornan, Wiig as the villain, and her child sidekick Yoyo (Reyn Doi) very amusing to watch. It’s hard to critique the actors for their performances in an oddity like this because they’re all done dirty by the weak screenplay, unrealistic heightened characters, and a very thin story that was easily solved.

It’s a real shame that Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is such a step down from the heights of Bridesmaids. It was always going to be a challenge to deliver a comedy as good as that but I didn’t expect Barb and Star to be such a misfire. I’m still processing how insane, absurd, and silly it was!

Available on video-on-demand platforms such as Apple TV, YouTube, Prime Video, and Google Play, from Friday 12th February

Rating: 2 out of 5.