Missing that holiday feeling in what feels like an ever-ending lockdown? Well this film is the perfect tonic for the winter blues, reuniting the wonderful duo of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo a decade on from their iconic hit comedy Bridesmaids. The longtime friends and academy award nominated collaborators finally appear onscreen once again in this absurd and freewheeling comedy. Before diving into the movie though, I should note that it’s best to approach it with an open mind fully expecting a surreal and zany trip.
Directed by Josh Greenbaum (New Girl) Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar centres on forty-something best friends, Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig), who decide to pack their bags and head off on holiday after being fired from their ‘dream’ jobs. The duo fly to the popular holiday destination of Vista Del Mar in Florida, and quickly find themselves accidentally embroiled in a madcap revenge plot involving killer mosquitoes.
Opening with a hilarious musical cold opening (much like SNL) and subsequent introduction to the barmy villanous sub plot, Greenbaum doesn’t waste any time fully immersing us into the kooky nature of it all. The film features an insanely ridiculous narrative loosely held together by a number of utterly bonkers skits which really shouldn’t work, but surprisingly do thanks to the commitment of the leads and the many laugh out loud moments. It’s pure escapism; the humour is silly with a surreal nature, and the scenes get bigger and more ambitious throughout – it’s definitely what we need at the moment!
There’s such a warm and endearing nature from the central duo of Kristen Wiig (Star) and Annie Mumolo (Barb), you can’t help but love the both of them. Their strong friendship is the real focus of the film, along with their charming naivety and innocence which is often poked fun at throughout. There’s plenty of gags about middle-aged American women too, (particularly with the title card definition of Culotte trousers) as the two leads clearly have a blast fully leaning into certain stereotypes. Thankfully this is always framed with a sweet affection and good heartedness, much like Ted Lasso.
The often typecast Jamie Dornan, primarily known for Fifty Shades and The Fall, is the biggest surprise however, with a hilarious turn as the villain’s love-struck henchman. Dornan completely throws himself into the role, even committing to the ridiculously tongue-in-cheek musical number, “Edgar’s Prayer.” Along with the surprising vocal talents, the actor hilariously pirouettes around the beach and digs himself into the sand in an angsty music video parody, resulting in real belly laughs. The central trio really are a joy to watch, particularly when they’re partying together, or Barb and Star are attempting to sneak out of their shared room to go on a date with Edgar.
The film is also wonderfully vibrant, perfectly capturing those holiday vibes with cocktails in coconuts, swim up pools and banana boats; you genuinely feel transported to the tropical destination. There are also some absolutely brilliant musical numbers which may just top Popstar: Never Stop Stopping and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga; ranging from the first musical number at Palm Vista Hotel, along with a number of outrageous jazz songs from comedy musician Richard Cheese and Dornan’s completely ridiculous but captivating number. Greenbaum also fully commits to the quirky energy with mermaids, talking crabs, submarines and evil lairs – think Anchorman crossed with Austin Powers.
Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar is one of the best and most colourful comedies of 2021 so far, with the hugely fun, laugh-out-loud skits feeling like a joyful tonic to lockdown. I could genuinely see this becoming a cult classic, with many cocktail themed screenings taking place at the Prince Charles Cinema!