“Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar”: a comedy that breaks all the right rules.
The new comedy from "Bridesmaids" writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, is the exact amount of funny that makes for a unique and unforgettable watch.
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar does not only have a very catchy and memorable title. It’s fun, it’s positive, it’s ridiculous, and most definitely comedy gold. After BFF’s Barb and Star get fired from their dream jobs and get kicked out of Talking Club, they decide to take a trip to get out of their rut. They happily reminisce about that one time an actual killer wanted to murder them (as one does) and find they miss “adventure.” So, they pack their bags and go to Floridian paradise Vista del Mar. In this movie, crazy scenarios are dealt with in the most casual of ways, just to move on to the next one. And it’s absolutely perfect. When they arrive, things don't go exactly to plan, but Barb and Star are not fazed by this. They put on their culottes (women's trousers that resemble a skirt and somehow, very important to the story), grab some drinks, and go on to have the wildest adventure of their lives.
Now, of course, this is not just a story about two middle-age women going on vacation. There’s a villainous ruse to kill everyone in the hotel with deadly mosquitoes, because why not? And this is where the revelation of the movie, actor Jamie Dornan, comes in. Dornan is mostly known for taking dramatic roles like serial killer Phil Spector in The Fall and Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey. Well, you can take every single preconceived notion you had of him out the window because the actor just proved he can solidly do comedy too.
In the film, he plays Edgar, the villain’s lover and the one that’s carrying out her evil plan. In a strange but humorous change of plans, he meets Barb and Star and ends up getting romantically involved with the latter. This makes him reconsider everything, and the character goes through a love-fueled existential crisis. We get to see Jamie Dornan sing, dance, and try some physical comedy to great success. The fact that he was able to go head to head with two top-tier comedians like Wiig and Mumolo shows he's got some comedy chops and so much more talent that's yet to be seen.
What made everything even better is Kristen Wiig not only playing Star, but also playing the villain. This must not be overlooked because even I, a big Kristen Wiig fan, had a hard time identifying who she was. The transformation is impressive, and her acting is simply on point. Given Wiig’s previous career on SNL, it’s not a surprise she was able to pull it off. She showed she is a multi-faceted actress. We know every SNL alumni has an ability to camouflage themselves into many roles, but to completely disappear in the way Wiig did is on a whole other level. Her performance was not just about her versatility but also about her capacity to play two very different characters in the same movie and still keep both of them light and outright hilarious in their own distinct ways.
The fun begins when Star starts fooling around with Edgar all over the hotel (and let's not forget the deadly mosquitoes plan is still well underway). In the meantime, Barb is facing her fears and going snorkeling and doing water skiing. There’s a pianist singing about how much he loves boobies, a talking crab named Morgan freeman, a mermaid named Trish, played by Reba McEntire, choreographed musical numbers, Andy García being his mysterious self, and actor Damon Wayans Jr. as the worst detective ever. Everything your kind of supposed to avoid is blatantly done in this quirky comedy. However, it’s just the right amount.
As the story progresses, the quick-witted banter doesn't stop. In the Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert, the host told Kristen Wiig that the movie’s joke-per-minute ratio is just right, and I couldn't agree more. Some jokes are hysterically stupid. Some are subtle, and some are plain crazy. But each and every one of them hit as hard as the one before. I think it’s safe to say not every comedy has this amount of consistency that makes you laugh from start to finish. Add to it the weird, colorful vibes and energy surrounding the jokes, and you have one of the most surreal comedies in recent years.
In the end, Barb and Star are forced to face not only each other as friends but the villain and her evil plot. They very ridiculously try to save the day in a way only they can. These are two women that are extremely positive, kind and nice, confident, joyful, and love each other unconditionally. That's what's saves the day (and some random hidden tricks they have up their sleeves). This movie boasts gifted actors doing outstanding character acting with very precise comedy in between. Oh, and the glorious culottes. I’m not going to spoil it, but the culottes turn out to be crucial in one of the most hilarious and amusing ways I’ve ever seen a piece of clothing being used. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar is the ingenious comedy we all need right now, and I assure you, you're going to want to watch it more than once.
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