By Christian DiMartino
Alright, I’m not going to beat around the bush with you people: I absolutely love Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.
The trailers for this film were released in December 2019. I recall seeing them in a theatre, and the people I was with rolled their eyes. Chances are, you might have the same reaction to the final film. Me? I always knew that I wanted to see it, and it was one of my most anticipated releases for the upcoming summer… a summer that, as you know, never came. Instead, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar has found its way onto VOD for a $20 rental. It really depends on who you are. You will either go with the consistent, shameless silliness that is on display, or you’ll find the antics of Barb and Star, and everyone around them, annoying.
As you can already tell, I went with it. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is the most shamelessly stupid movie I’ve seen in many years, and I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t laughing most of the time. I wasn’t always proud of it, but stars/writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo should be. In the grand tradition of The Naked Gun, Austin Powers, and Airplane!, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is one of those films with a joke of some sort every 30 seconds or so. This sorta thing doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s marvelous, and this is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen since the criminally underseen They Came Together (seriously, if you haven’t seen that, and like this kind of material, do yourself a favor).
Plot doesn’t really matter in a movie like this, but I guess I’ll dive into it. Wiig and Mumolo play the title roles, and chances are you’ll read the title in their Minnesota accents. The two are best friends, so close that they go visit each other at work on their off days. When they’re told that their place of business, a furniture store, is closing down, it breaks their poor old hearts. Soon though, they both hatch the idea to, for the first time ever, leave their small town and head to the magical land of Vista Del Mar, Florida. A magical land, indeed. I love Florida, and I love this film’s jokey love for Florida too.
Meanwhile, Wiig also basically plays a Bond villain named Sharon Gordon Fisherman, who looks like the albino lovechild of Tilda Swinton’s character from Snowpiercer and Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka. She resides in a submarine with her henchmen: the dashing Edgar Paget (Jamie Dornan, surprisingly very funny), who is madly in love with her, and a little Asian boy named Yoyo. Yes, Yoyo. Fisherman devises a plan to unleash a huge batch of killer mosquitos on the people of, of all places, Vista Del Mar, due to past trauma. So Edgar is sent there to scope the place out, and he runs into our beloved heroes, and that’ all I’ll say.
What I respect about a movie like Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is that at every turn, Wiig and Mumolo go for it. There’s music numbers, weirdo cameos, action sequences. It’s spectacular, and yes, we’re talking about a movie called Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. This feels like the kind of movie where the filmmakers knew they were only getting one movie, and so they threw everything at the screen. Honestly, if they ever made a sequel (they probably won’t now, but I can hold my breath), I’d be all over it.
Wiig and Mumolo are a delight, playing two women who, even in the ludicrous circumstances that they’re in, I completely believed. Perhaps the real shock of the film though is just how good Dornan is. My knowledge of Dornan is, unfortunately, Fifty Shades of Grey. Yet like Dakota Johnson, and like whenever Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were sentenced to Twilight, I got the sense that he was probably better than the material. He is. It helps that he’s really good looking, of course, but he feels weirdly at home here. It was perhaps a bold call casting him, but it’s a gamble that worked.
This marks Wiig and Mumolo’s first collaboration since Bridesmaids, and like that great film, this is one that I will be watching for a long, long time. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware of what I am saying, and I’m aware that, quite frankly, not everyone is going to go for this. It might be a little too stupid for some, and that’s okay. Yet this film made me, a very miserable bloke, thoroughly happy for a little over 100 minutes, and this day and age, that’ll do.