Looking for something to brighten your day and leave you with a huge smile when it ends? Are you a fan of Jamie Dornan, Kristen Wiig, outrageous musical sequences, and cartoonish Austin Powers humor? If you check off any of these boxes, there’s a big bundle of fun known as Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar that’s waiting for you! An early contender for the best comedy of 2021, this is a film that had me howling with laughter as it gets more and more outrageous. The kooky world and atmosphere gets crazier as the movie progresses and you’ll either be completely on board with the insanity or you’ll hate it. Personally, I loved every ridiculous second.
Two middle-aged best friends whose idea of a good time is popping a couple of Wheat Thins while wearing their favorite culottes are in for the time of their life after being informed their job is closing permanently. With a new lease on life, Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) decide to take a much-needed vacation together. Little do they know, they are right in the crosshairs of the villainess Sharon Gordon Fisherman (also Kristen Wiig) and her cohorts (Jamie Dornan, Reyn Doi) as they seek to unleash a swarm of killer mosquitoes as revenge for a tragic incident in Sharon’s shadowy past.
There are some really great cameos that I won’t spoil here, but this whole ensemble is terrific, playing off each other’s comedic energy and timing masterfully. You can tell that Wiig and Mumolo have been friends forever and it really bleeds into their characters. The kind of friendship chemistry they bring to the table you just can’t fake. It was sweet to me that even when lying to each other, they never do anything particularly awful or vindictive. There’s a love there that feels special and important, with both Barb and Star longing for the other to succeed. I appreciated that Jamie Dornan’s character, Edgar, is the catalyst for each of these women finding their independence. He was one of my favorite things about the film and in every single scene he caught my attention. I love that Dornan was able to let loose a little. Over the last year, I rewatched his moody performance in 2018’s Robin Hood and his bizarre rain-drenched rom-com Wild Mountain Thyme, but I didn’t know he could pull off comedy quite this well. Color me impressed! As for the main villainess herself, whether you call her “pale girl,” “white devil,” or even just “asshole,” Sharon makes for a stellar baddie who’s always trying to micromanage Edgar down in Vista Del Mar. With considerably less screentime than Edgar, Sharon still manages to pull off that imposing villain-from-the-shadows thing from so many cartoons while having some funny one-liners and a fittingly silly backstory.
The perfect musical sequences are catchy and over-the-top, with Dornan’s solo song standing out the most as it reminded me of High School Musical 2’s now-iconic ‘Bet On It’ particularly in execution. My only complaint when it comes to the soundtrack and music is that I wanted even more of it. I felt a slight missed opportunity for one big bombastic final number. Is it wrong to want a sequel to this movie that’s filled with even more musical elements?
I found Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar to be, in the movie’s own words, a ‘real titflapper’ – it sold me with its uplifting vibes, over-the-top humor, and memorable characters. Barb and Star are a friendship for the ages, and I can see this reaching cult-movie status in the coming years.