Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar Assessment: Kristen Wiig’s Aggressively Bizarre Delight

If you like your comedy bizarre and light-hearted, chances are you’ll go for the latest Wiig and Mumulo film.

Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo in Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.

It’s been almost ten years Bridesmaids, written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolowas a comedy bang, and now they’re back with a new comedy Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.. But if you’re looking for something on the same wavelength as bridesmaids, you will be deeply disappointed. Instead, Barb & Star plays by its own rules to create something wonderfully unusual, unencumbered and as free as the title characters feel. director Josh Greenbaum and its stars / writers always lean towards the craziness of the movie and it makes Barb & Star a delightfully wacky experience. There are times it feels like How Stella got her groove back on acid, and at other times when it feels like Barb & Star is considered to be white makeover films by middle-aged women MacGruber is to 80s action movies or Pop star is about pop music documentaries. Those expecting a different bridesmaid likely won’t choose Barb & Star, but those willing to embark on this wild ride will be amply rewarded.

Vicious super villain Sharon Gordon Fisherman (Wiig) wants to destroy the seaside resort of Vista Del Mar by unleashing a swarm of killer mosquitos to sting everyone to death. She sends her henchman Edgar (Jamie Dornan) who is madly in love with her in order to install a receiver that will attract the killer mosquitoes, and Sharon believes nothing can stand in her way. Enter best friends Barb (Mumulo) and Star (Wiig), two middle-aged Nebraska women recently laid off at the best store in town and working in the furniture store. When her boyfriend recommends a vacation to Vista Del Mar, which is like a “soul shower”, the two ladies decide to take a trip to the city of Florida, where they intersect with Edgar and accidentally derail Sharon’s evil conspiracy.

Mumolo, Dornan and Wiig in Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.

Image via Lionsgate

The more bizarre Barb & Star gets, the better it is. There are the basic plot beats of Barb and Star that grow apart when they discover they want different things but feel compelled to lie to each other in order to hide those new interests. However, each scene is punctuated by a strange gag or moment in which the comedy lives. It’s not enough for Barb and Star to go to a talking club with their girlfriends with strictly enforced rules – there is also serving hot dog soup and then a conflict with a member who really wants to talk about horses enough that she brought her a saddle. All those little comic beats make up a movie that’s more about playing by your own rules than situation comedies.

Yet I feel like the audience is more prepared for a movie like this than maybe ever before. Look at the continued success of something like this I think you should go with Tim Robinson Almost two years after its release, people like comedy that has weird non-sequencing and bombastic visual gags and doesn’t apologize for leaving reality behind. It’s debatable if Barb & Star reaches these dizzying heights of weird comedies, but I love that it at least exists in this wheelhouse where Jamie Dornan is going to do an entire musical number about his love for an albino supervillain who doesn’t do reciprocate his feelings.

Annie Mumolo in Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.

Image via Lionsgate

I don’t want to spoil any more jokes about Barb & Star other than to say that I found it to be a great mix of crazy humor and a sunny vibe. Everything it does happens with big smiles on their faces, and Wiig and Mumulo have such a simple relationship that if you look at bridesmaids you can watch their one scene in this movie together and see how quickly they get to each other bounce off. They are a great comic duo that have no problem carrying that crazy movie that they wrote together. It’s not a comedy for everyone, but I honestly feel a little bad for those who don’t like it. You’re missing out on a great time.

Rating: A-

Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar is available for rent on February 12th from VOD.


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About the author

Matt Goldberg
(14836 articles published)

Matt Goldberg has been an editor at Collider since 2007. As the site’s Chief Film Critic, he has written hundreds of reviews and covered major film festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and their dog Jack.

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