“Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar” – A Wacky Comedy to Tickle Your Inner Child’s Funny Bone

Kristen Wiig as Star and Annie Mumolo as Barb in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Photo Credit: Cate Cameron
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At the Movie With…

Lady Beverly Cohn

Editor-at-Large Worldwide

Anyone who has ever seen a shrink might remember that one’s sense of humor possibly stems from a carefree inner child who laughs easily.  That said, given the COVID pandemic, coupled with our nation’s divisive politics, it’s been challenging to keep that joie de vivre alive. Therefore, I must admit for the first few minutes of the writing team of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar, I wasn’t sure if I could sit through the film.  Those concerns lifted pretty quickly and I found myself laughing out loud with some of the wacky antics and sight gags that began to unfold. 

Kristen Wiig as Dr. Lady in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Photo Credit: Cate Cameron

Skillfully directed by Josh Greenbaum, that writing team, who co-wrote wrote Bridesmaids, play the lead roles of Star and Barb.  The pitfalls in broad comedy of this nature is to go for the laughs, but they didn’t and played the most absurd situations with the utmost of sincerity, making the goofiness even funnier.  Think Leslie Nielsen who accomplished that straight-face comedy magnificently in The Naked Gun and Airplane franchises.  The film begins with a young kid named ‘Yoyo’ (Reyn Doi) delivering newspapers and lip-syncing a song.  He reaches a magic tree where an owl drenches him in red light and lo and behold, he is now dressed in a spiffy suit and ends up with the diabolically evil albino, Sharon Gordon Fisherman, also played by Wiig.  As a young girl, because of her ghost-like appearance, she suffered the slings and arrows aimed at her by schoolmates who had her shot out of a canon where she landed on a cruise ship. The scars of her childhood lingered and she is about to get even by unleashing thousands of lethal, genetically altered mosquitoes on Vista Del Mar, the Florida location of her original humiliation.  Edgar, her henchman, and wanna-be lover, is wonderfully played by Fifty Shades of Grey Jamie Dornan, who reveals the playful, musical side of his acting chops.

Kristen Wiig as Dr. Lady in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lionsgate
The narrative switches to a furniture store where sales people Star and Barb are seated on a couch shooting the breeze.  They live in the Midwest and have been best friends since their childhood, retaining a sincere innocence.  A couple wants to buy the couch but they tell them they are very attached to that particular couch and cannot sell it.  Well, as destiny would have it, the store goes out of business, the rigid topic-centered women’s group to which they belong tosses them out for lying, and they are now left with a big void in their lives.  Along comes Mickey, a friend of theirs, played by Wendi McLendon-Covey, who tells them she returned from the Vista Del Mar Hotel where she got a “soul douche.”  Star convinces the reluctant Barb that they should go to that resort to try to get their “glimmer” back.  They pack their bags and off they go.  At first, they can’t get into the Vista Del Mar Hotel and wind up at a flea bag dump where the front desk clerk asks: Do you want towels?  Sheets?  But destiny awaits them and a reservation opens up at their preferred hotel where they are greeted by staff dressed in a profusion of 21-flavors of delicious, vibrant pastel uniforms by costume designer Trayce Gigi Field, supporting the overall fairy-tale, carnival look of the film, stunningly captured by Toby Oliver’s photography.  With Christopher Lennertz and Dara Taylor’s music, the Bollywood-type opening production number, brilliantly choregraphed by Priscila Fernanda Hernández Lozano, gets you right into the lively spirit that permeates the film from beginning to end. Meanwhile, our palest of the pale meanie gives Edgar his marching orders and he heads down to Florida to perform the dastardly deed with the understanding that the chip she gave him is protection against the mosquito attack.  Our vacationing ladies meet assassin Edgar where they proceed to drink large quantities of alcohol, culminating with the three of them winding up in bed, waking up the next morning in a triple decker sandwich position.  Both girls are smitten with this handsome dude, each making up elaborate lies so they can sneak away to be with him.  Since Edgar’s pale-faced girlfriend is not responding romantically, he’s beginning to develop feelings for Star.  Sitting on the beach, smitten Star receives advice from a talking crab named Morgan Freedmand (voiced by Josh Robert Thompson) who waxes poetic, as well receiving philosophical gibberish observations from Tommy Bahama, a delicious cameo by the inimitable Andy Garcia.  Now that Edgar has become smitten with Star, he has second thoughts about unleashing those pesky mosquitoes.  To get the attack back on track, Fisherman sends down Darlie Bunkle, a bumbling assassin comically played by Damon Wayans Jr., to carry out the attack, but eventually she goes to the resort city herself to oversee the massacre, which faces unforeseen complications, including the arrival of Trish, a sea nymph adorably played by Reba McEntire. Does this all end well? Will the killer mosquitoes have a stinging frenzy?  Who gets the guy?  Who gets the girl?  Do Barb and Star get their glimmer back?  So, you have to ask yourself if you can let go of that sophisticated part of yourself so you can enjoy this off-the-wall, campy, satirical adventures of two innocent “girls” from the Midwest?  Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar may be the first cult film of 2021.
Andy Garcia as Tommy Bahama in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Photo Credit: Cate Cameron

Distributor:  Lionsgate

Release Date:  Current

Where: Amazon Prime & Other VOD Platforms

Language:  English

Genre: Comedy/Science Fiction

Running Time:  106 Minutes

Rating:  PG-13 for crude sexual content, drug use and some strong language

Casting by:  Allison Jones and Ben Harris

Additional Cast Member:  Vanessa Bayer, Fortune Feimster,

Phyllis Smith, Ian Gomez, Michael Hitchcock,

Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kwame Patterson, Rose Abdoo