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"BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR"
(2021) (Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: After losing their jobs, two best friends vacation on the Florida coast only to run afoul of a villain and her henchman who are eager to destroy the seaside town.
PLOT:

After losing their jobs due to their furniture store closing, close friends and coworkers Barb (ANNIE MUMOLO) and Star (KRISTEN WIIG) decide they can't let the best parts of their lives be behind them and thus follow a friend's glowing advice to visit Vista Del Mar on Florida's Gulf coast. Lucking into a room at a nice hotel, they enjoy all the trappings that they intend to experience together. Unbeknownst to them, however, uber-villain Sharon Gordon Fisherman (KRISTEN WIIG) has a grudge against that coastal town stemming from her childhood.

With her child henchman Yoyo (REYN DOI) by her side and would-be lover/henchman Edgar Paget (JAMIE DORNAN) now positioned at that same hotel, Sharon plans to unleash a swarm of deadly, genetically modified mosquitoes onto Vista Del Mar and kill everyone there. But the villain doesn't anticipate Edgar -- pining about his unrequited love for Sharon -- ending up falling for Star and vice-versa, or the two women finding their friendship put to the test regarding that unexpected relationship. With Sharon still intent on executing her plan, Barb and Star must work through their differences to save the day.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

The beauty of living in an open, democratic society and simply being human, is that you don't have to agree with or like what others do. This freedom of choice sometimes is a conscious decision to buck whatever the applicable trend or subject matter might be, while at others it's simply an innate, "that's just the way I'm wired" response to whatever the external stimulus is.

Accordingly, not everyone likes pizza or ice cream, poetry or rap music, rainy days, or spending time at the beach. And while certain entertainment figures can have huge followings that love the work they put out, some respond to that and them in "meh" or even adverse ways.

I'm no exception and while I know people who absolutely adore Kristen Wiig, there's something about her exaggerated and definitely affected acting style playing comedic characters and especially caricatures that simply rubs me the wrong way. That especially holds true for the original characters she created and/or played on "Saturday Night Live" and that's sort of what I felt like I was experiencing while watching "Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar."

In this silly and wacky comedy -- that features occasional musical numbers, a lounge piano player repeatedly singing "I love boobies," and a crab that sounds like Morgan Freeman while speaking about and repeating lines from that actor's films -- Wiig gives me two reasons to cringe.

And that's because she not only plays one half of the titular duo -- the other being Annie Mumolo who plays Barb -- but also the film's uber-villain (never named in the movie but listed as Sharon Gordon Fisherman in the credits), both existing in the over-the-top SNL mode that Wiig repeatedly utilized during her multi-year stint on that show.

If you enjoyed her playing such characters, you'll probably have a similar reaction here as both feel like skit creations that suddenly find themselves in a full-length, fairly scattershot movie. Wiig and Mumolo -- who co-wrote the script together -- play two middle-aged women who are no longer married (due to divorce and death) and now no longer employed at a furniture store they so love that they nearly simultaneously fart on their favorite floor model couch to prevent it from being sold (yes, that's the caliber of comedy we're dealing with here).

Taking advice from another friend, they decide to throw caution to the wind and travel to the titular destination for some R&R. Upon arriving at a grand, seaside hotel, they're greeted by a big musical number, only to learn that their reservation is at a far, far less glamorous motel of the same name where most of the film's clever jokes pop up.

Alas, they quickly end up getting a room back at the better place where they meet and both fall for the handsome Edgar (Jamie Dornan), unaware that his heart is already set on someone else who just so happens to be the villain who just so happens to want revenge on the town that just so happened to be the setting of humiliation long ago in her younger days.

Her weapon of choice -- a bunch of deadly, genetically modified mosquitoes -- seems odd, mainly because it doesn't offer much in the way of comedic potential and the script certainly proves that true. Needless to say, they'll obviously be unleashed toward the end of the 107-minute offering.

But until then, we get to experience the goofy shenanigans of the two leads as they end up betraying their friendship in the face of casual sex (with Dornan's conflicted henchman character) and vacation excursions (that, sadly, also don't provide any great comedic fodder).

I appreciate the desire and attempt to entertain everyone -- especially in this day and age -- via silly goofiness. But there's smart silly (like what Monty Python used to do) and then there's unfocused, scattershot material like this that feels like an "SNL" skit stretched to and ultimately reaching the breaking point.

Fans of Wiig and her exaggerated caricature performances will obviously feel differently, but I couldn't wait for "Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar (And Then Go Back Home)" to end. It rates as a very generous 4 out of 10 simply for being light and bubbly in otherwise dire times.




Reviewed February 10, 2021 / Posted February 12, 2021


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