Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar – Review

Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 47 minutes, Director – Josh Greenbaum

Two lifelong 40-something friends (Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo) venture out from their small-town lives for a sunny holiday of adventure and romance in Florida.

Barb and Star (Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig) are two stereotypical midwestern American 40-something’s. Life-long friends the two spend their days sat on a sofa having close, high-pitched, rambling conversations about the violence in the latest historical TV series. When one is at work the other goes with them, even if they aren’t working a shift that day; this is until the furniture store they work at suddenly closes down. Unsure as to what they can do with their days now, aside from the slow moving, strictly organised, talking club they attend, the pair realise the routine nature of their lives is getting them nowhere. On bumping into a seemingly replenished friend (Wendi McLendon-Covey) the pair are convinced to go on a similar “soul douche” to Vista Del Mar, Florida. A land far away from their quiet small-town lives, one of potential excitement and adventure.

Yet, even on the way there the two spend the hours long plane journey discussing the name Trish, creating the life story for someone who doesn’t even exist. Despite the stereotype there’s something convincing about Wiig and Mumolo’s central performances, likely familiarised from their role as screenwriters. As they constantly agree and discuss with surprise that they agree their conversations are no doubt amusing, the two performances raising a handful of chuckles here and there with the various dumb gags and throwaways that the film produces. However, perhaps none of the absurdity matches Jamie Dornan belting out a pop-ballad to seagulls. Dornan ditches all seriousness as he plays a conflicted love-interest, Edgar. Sent by the film’s villain (also Wiig, giving the feeling of Millicent Clyde played for laughs) to unleash a swarm of deadly mosquitos that will wipe out everyone in Vista Del Mar he pines for a relationship with both of Wiig’s characters.

The humour is definitely silly and often absurd, there are hints of – and potential references to – the likes of Airplane and Monty Python, specifically Mark Jonathan Davis as hotel singer Richard Cheese, singing songs much alike to Eric Idle’s Noël Coward impersonation in The Meaning Of Life. All such moments prove a fine distraction from some of the more plot-heavy elements involving the core villain of the piece. Such scenes occasionally feel in place to remind the viewer that this plot point does indeed exist and this isn’t a film just about two women having a cracking, if chaotic, week-long holiday at the Palm Vista Hotel – where your greeted with a grand scale musical number. The underground dwelling figure simply feels more of a background character, lacking in any major detail to have a proper impact, also not quite managing to raise as many laughs as other characters in the piece.

Such moments boost the run-time up to closer to two hours than 90 minutes, the final 15-20 minutes or so begin to drag as all plot-points converge and attempt to wrap up as one. It proves a busy film, and luckily there are a decent amount of chuckles scattered throughout to stop things from feeling longer and as if they drag throughout. Some major plot elements are pushed aside, however perhaps the film is better for this. It lets us delve further into the conversations and antics of the titular friends. Wiig, Mumolo and Dornan give a trio of entertainingly humorous performances and overall create something that while sporadic certainly creates a number of good laughs – verbal, visual and musical – along the way.

Some plot elements may not have the strength or laughs of the central friendship, however the dealing of occasionally absurd humour of all forms helps it along and makes for an enjoyable comedy from Wiig and Mumolo.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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