[Nightmarish Detour Review] BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR

[Nightmarish Detour Review] BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR
Courtesy of Lionsgate
I can’t be the only one that is desperately in need of a vacation. Maybe it’s the winter dreariness, maybe it’s the upcoming one-year anniversary of a global pandemic – all I know is that I could use an escape. As it turns out, BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR is exactly the mental vacation I needed and never could have expected. This film is nothing if not ridiculously fun!

BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR is directed by Josh Greenbaum and stars Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Wonder Woman 1984) and Annie Mumolo (Bad Moms), both of whom co-wrote the film. The film is heavily populated with extremely funny people doing incredibly ridiculous things, with Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr., Vanessa Bayer, Fortune Feimster, Phyllis Smith, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and too many others to list filling out this hilarious ensemble. 

In the film, we meet lifelong friends Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig), who find themselves staring into an empty future after they lose their jobs at the local furniture store. Single and middle-aged, the pair set off in search of adventure by leaving their small Midwestern town for the first time ever and seeking out the aquamarine waters of Vista Del Mar, Florida. What awaits them on those white sand beaches? How about romance, a villainous plot, and the ultimate test of their friendship?

Believe me when I tell you that anything goes in BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR. The titular Barb and Star are ridiculous caricatures of middle-aged women that are stretched into the grotesque through their absurd surroundings. Everything about this film is just plain silly and that silliness explodes into a Technicolor fantasy once Barb and Star make it to Vista Del Mar. This film throws everything it possibly can at you, with rapid speed – nonsensical dialogue, bizarre characters, beachy puns, random and massive musical numbers, and a lounge singer with a seemingly endless repertoire of crooner numbers about tits.

Still Courtesy of Lionsgate l Photo Credit: Cate Cameron

As with all silly things, BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR occasionally ventures into truly dumb territory. The random “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” approach to humor misses as many jokes as it lands and enjoying the film requires the viewer to just sit back and let it all unfold. The plot is pure Velveeta and, appropriately, appreciating the film is not dissimilar to appreciating ballpark nachos. You know it’s bad. You gobble it up anyway.

The buffet of characters and performance runs the gamut from endearing to irritating. Wiig and Mumolo are utterly lovable as Barb and Star. Each of them brings equal parts sweetness and silliness to the role and the result is just a delight. Jamie Dornan is the surprise standout of the cast, as a lovesick beefcake, and steals every scene that he’s in with full and unhinged commitment. Side characters and running gags gradually wear on the viewer, but 12-year-old Reyn Doi is the absolute highlight of the film. Everything that is lovable about BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR is contained in that single, delightful performance.

For all of its outrageous humor, the warm and gooey center of this film is a strikingly authentic meditation on aging. Barb and Star are both characters that find themselves facing the second half of their life and realizing that their most powerful memories are behind them. Their adventure is built on the foundation of refusing to believe that their time to love, live, and shimmer has passed. The film dares you to let go of fear, shoot your shot, and do it with your best friend, packaged in pastels and tropical prints.

BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR is pina colada sweet and unapologetically bright. Yes, it’s silly. Yes, it’s a bit much. I dare you to try to make it through without getting the biggest grin on your face.

BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR premieres everywhere you rent movies today!

Caitlin Kennedy
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