Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021) ☆☆☆(3/4): Wacky, wacky, wacky!

There are lots of silly and wacky moments in “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar”, a decidedly absurd comedy film which is surprisingly funny and likable even when it goes all the way for surreal outrageousness and sheer corniness. Considering that it often depends on numerous unexpected gags and jokes popping here and there around its two incorrigibly quirky and chatty heroines, I will be as discreet as possible in my description of its plot, but I strongly recommend you not to read further if you really want to get laughs and guffaws from the movie as much as possible.

The two heroines of the movie in question are Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig), two fortysomething ladies who have been each other’s best female friend since they grew up together in some plain midwestern town. For many years, they have closely worked at some big local furniture shop, and they have even lived together in their cozy current residence since both of them happened to lose their respective husbands some time ago, but, alas, their manager notifies on one day that their workplace will be soon shut down. While they are surely at a loss after hearing this bad news, Star and Barb try to hide this from the members of their private female club, but, not so surprisingly, their attempt only leads to a worse outcome thanks to their irrepressible chattiness.

As they are later comforting each other while concerned a lot about the impending uncertainty in the rest of their life, Barb and Star come to have a bold idea on how to enliven themselves more. There is a wonderful resort area called Vista Del Mar in Florida, and, according to their mutual friend who has recently been there, it looks like a place quite liberating and energizing – especially to women in mid-life crisis like Barb and Star.

Fortunately, Star and Barb can afford to go and then stay there for a while, so they instantly pack up their respective suitcases, and they soon arrive in Vista Del Mar. When they come to a big and posh hotel at which they are supposed to stay, they are greeted by a bunch of employees welcoming them with a big moment of music and dance, and you can easily see that the movie is really ready to do anything to tickle us more and more.

Although it subsequently turns out that there was a serious fault in their room reservation, Star and Barb remain quite optimistic nonetheless, and they soon get luckier than expected as a newly vacated room is offered to them in the end. In addition, they get one wild evening at a hotel bar shortly after meeting a hunky dude named Edgar (Jamie Dornan), and, mainly thanks to a big special cocktail they and this guy drink together, they heedlessly hurl themselves into a series of dizzy but exciting moments accompanied with a certain infamous Oscar-winning song performed by Celine Dion, which has been pretty tiresome to me after I heard it countless times during early 1998 (You know why, by the way).

In the meantime, the movie also focuses on the progression of a certain diabolical plan to be unfolded on the upcoming festival day in Vista Del Mar. As already shown to us at the beginning, Edgar is deeply involved in this evil plan as emotionally attached to its resentful mastermind, and he is fully ready to follow the instruction given to him, but then the situation gets quite complicated as he lets himself associated more with both Barb and Star, who respectively try to attract him while quite oblivious to what he is going to commit sooner or later.

As steadily rolling its main characters further into their increasingly loony circumstance, the screenplay by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who were previously Oscar-nominated for their witty and hilarious screenplay for “Bridesmaids” (2011), diligently throws one uproarious moment after another, and many of them are quite effective thanks to the priceless comic timing between Wiig and Mumolo, who effectively play against each other as fully understanding their silly but ultimately lovable heroines to the core. Yes, Barb and Star are incorrigible in many aspects, but they are undeniably warm and spirited in addition to being really funny and engaging in their interactions, and you can easily imagine them doing a genuinely entertaining schtick together in Las Vegas. Moreover, their longtime relationship is actually sort of sweet and touching at times, and Wiig and Mumolo ably imbue their characters with some depth even during their silliest moments in the film.

While Wiig and Mumolo are certainly the main show of the movie, several other main cast members revolving around them provide each own juicy moment to be savored. James Dorman, who has been mainly known for “Fifty Shades of Grey” (2015) and its disposable sequels, demonstrates his unexpected comic talent here, and you will admire how willingly he throws himself into many absurd moments while also keeping his acting as straight as possible. As another crucial supporting character who enters the story later, Damon Wayans Jr. ably handles a small running gag given to him, and you will probably be delighted by the brief but very funny cameo appearance of a certain Oscar-nominated actor.

Competently directed by director Josh Greenbaum, “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” amused and entertained me many times during my viewing, and I admire how skillfully Greenbaum, Wiig, and Mumolo present many comic moments in the film with lots of wit, care, and confidence. I must confess that I initially responded to the truly outrageous finale with lots of disbelief, but I also laughed again as gladly going along with that, and now I am hoping for another funny adventure for Barb and Star.

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