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.

Ben-Hur (2016): Film Review

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This remake of Ben-Hur was released in the U.S. last month and received disappointing reviews and even worst returns at the box office, but that’s what happens when you touch an epic – the Oscar-winning 1959 film starring Charlton Heston – and try to remake it, when that was already a remake itself. So obviously critics were ready to be scathing, but as someone representing the new generation, who couldn’t be bothered to sit through the predecessor’s staggering 212 minute run time, this was just fine. Nothing amazing, nothing dreadful.

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Now You See Me 2: Film Review

I was a big fan of Now You See Me so I was very happy when this sequel was announced. I love Dave Franco, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, and Morgan Freeman individually, so having them all together in a movie is the dream. So two helpings are even better – especially with the addition of more favourites Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe.

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Momentum: Film Review

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Olga Kurylenko makes a pretty lean, mean fighting machine but it is just a shame that she only gets to prove it with a leading role in the lacklustre Momentum. She is worthy of more than this!

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My top 5 natural disaster movies

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San Andreas was released in cinemas this week (read my review) and it is all about the biggest earthquake ever registered on the Richter scale. It is big, epic and makes full use of CGI technology. Natural disaster movies are tough to crack – they usually end up being very cliched, cheesy with 2D characters. While I’m not saying my following top 5 are immune to these pitfalls, I still love them and I think of them fondly when talk of the genre comes up.

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Lucy: Film Review

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I really wanted to see Lucy when it came out and I’ve finally got round to it and I have to say, it is not the film you think it’s going to be. Luckily, I was prepared for that as I had read a raft of reviews which said it descends from a cool idea into something rather philosophical, which is so true. This can only be described as bizarre and not at all what you would expect from the trailer.

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Oblivion: Review

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This starts off as a really interesting, dystopian future movie but ends up a little disappointing. It is hard to explain without ruining the surprises but the more you learn, the less you care about the central characters. It is stunning and the concepts of how the earth runs is very clever but you lose connection with the characters once the truth begins to unravel.

Tom Cruise stars as Jack, who lives in a tower with his team mate and girlfriend, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). Earth is no longer. The moon was attacked by an alien force (known as Scavengers) which eventually made Earth inhabitable. The remaining human population live on Titan. Jack and Victoria are on Earth to look after the drones and “hydrorigs”- machines which suck up Earth’s water and send it to Titan. The drones keep getting attacked by lingering Scavengers (or “Scavs”) so Jack has to fix them. Their memory was wiped five years ago, they take their orders from a woman on Titan and they believe they will be leaving Earth in two weeks.

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You know things aren’t what they seem, especially if you’ve seen the trailer or watched interviews with Tom. Jack seems to be more inquisitive about the state of the Earth than Victoria, who just accepts the way it is. Things change for them completely when Jack is captured by a group of humans, led by Morgan Freeman. He later comes across a woman who he dreamt about named Julia (Olga Kurylenko) and everything he knows begins to unravel.

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It is fascinating in the beginning. The set-up, the technology and the landscape are incredible and I really enjoyed it. When you start to find things out, you are astounded by how much the truth has been twisted. However, when puzzle pieces come together you feel a bit disappointed and start to wonder if everything makes sense. I would have to re-watch it to check it all adds up.

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I thought Tom Cruise was brilliant and he proves he is still a kick-ass action hero. I loved his relationship with Victoria and I thought their chemistry was great. Morgan Freeman was barely in it and Olga let the story down with bad acting. Although this mainly a sci-fi action film, there is an emotional element to it and she didn’t do it justice.

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The CGI of the landscape and the machinery is brilliant and I would say that is the best aspect of the film. It is very interesting and I love that it wasn’t simply non-stop action. Tom carries this film perfectly; I just wish the final conclusion felt more satisfactory.

The Dark Knight Rises: Review

This film has been highly anticipated for a long time so expectations were ridiculously high. You would think it would be difficult to live up to those standards but The Dark Knight Rises did it. It is a brilliant film and I can’t really fault it in any major way. I’m a big fan of Christopher Nolan’s work and I know he would have to finish the trilogy with a bang- and he certainly did.

The film takes place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, in which Batman took responsibility for Harvey Dent’s actions. Batman has not been seen during that time and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become something of a recluse. He decides to don the suit once more after a run-in with Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) which alerts him to a new enemy in town, Bane (Tom Hardy). Since Gotham City has become relatively crime-free, Batman hasn’t really been needed until now. He goes up against this beast of a man to save Gotham from a nuclear bomb, even though all the residents believe he is evil.

That is the main plot thread but there are many other strands to it. You see Wayne penniless and alone after Bane deliberately loses his millions and his butler, Alfred (Michael Caine) walks out. He seeks solace in Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), who is working on an energy project funded by Wayne Enterprises. Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins the all-star cast as a police officer who helps out Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and learns the connection between Wayne and Batman.

The cast makes this film, it truly does. It would still be a good film because the script is top quality but they are amazing. I liked that Anne Hathaway was never referred to as “Catwoman” because that would be cheesy and I think her character could have easily become a caricature if played wrong. The character was handled well and I liked the addition of new characters. At first, I thought there would be too many to keep up with but once you get into it, it is no problem.

My favourite new character was John Blake (Gordon- Levitt) because he was such a good guy who was determined to help Gordon and Batman although the rest of the police force weren’t bothered. I saw the reveal at the end coming quite early on, but I won’t say anymore. I just hope it will be left alone. Tom Hardy made a remarkable transformation to play Bane. He is unrecognisable! He has absolutely beefed up and the voice was clever. I reckon the voice must have been edited afterwards to make him sound crazier. It was difficult to understand what he was saying at times, especially as you can’t see his mouth, but that’s my only complaint. No actor did a bad job, but Hardy and Gordon-Levitt stood out for me. Also, check out the cameos from Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy, who are briefly reprising their roles from Batman Begins.

While it is an action movie, I definitely felt like there was a lot of talking. I didn’t mind because the dialogue is well-written but some people may be put off. I sometimes find it hard to keep up with what is said because it is either said too quick or too low or mumbled. The action scenes are amazing and you can tell that Nolan would rather do practical effects than CGI. It looks far more realistic. While it is a superhero movie, it definitely feels more human and real than others in the genre because the hero is a regular guy but with a lot of money and resources, he has regular problems and the villain is also a real person (just super buff!)

You won’t leave feeling disappointed. The trilogy ends in a good place and you can feel satisfied with what’s in store for our much-loved characters. Definitely go see! On an end note, I would recommend a re-watch of Batman Begins because it is heavily referenced in this film.