Movie Review Illustration

(Eleanor Klock/Emerald)

Nearly 10 years ago, Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo released their roaring comedic hit  “Bridesmaids” that brought the trials and triumphs of female friendship to life. The pair wrote the entire film but only shared one short, but hilarious, scene together. This time around, they are the main characters, playing middle-aged best friends on their first adventure. On Feb. 12, “Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar” hit theatres and streaming platforms with a hopeful future of becoming a cult classic. 

Each and every scene is unexpected, outrageous and undeniably strange with so many twists and turns. Some of the more obscure plot points include a talking crab, a surprising (and shockingly weird) guest appearance from a celebrity country singer, a massive musical dance number and a hyperfixation on a style of pants called culottes. 

Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig) are two middle-aged best friends living together in a small town in Nebraska. They have never truly ventured out of the Midwest, but after losing the jobs they each held at the local furniture store, they decide to go on a vacation as a sort of soul-searching trip. Their destination of choice? An oasis somewhere on the Florida coast, made just for the middle-aged, that attracts almost exclusively people who wear Tommy Bahama, Tommy Bahama himself and the people who Jimmy Buffet writes songs about. 

While that in itself could be a successful movie plot, they don’t stop there; it is also an evil spy thriller movie featuring bombs of mosquitos, a familiar looking villain and a henchman named Edgar played by “Fifty Shades of Grey” star Jamie Dornan. With the addition of the spy narrative the film almost feels like two stand alone “Saturday Night Live” skits that were woven together to make one long confusing movie. 

Barb and Star are fantastic characters that were written beautifully and played so accurately. Wiig and Mumolo embody middle-aged midwestern women perfectly down to their accents, tacky jewelry, brightly colored outfits and incessant rambling. The chemistry between the two characters is undeniable, but unfortunately many of the jokes that they share come off as inside jokes, leaving the audience with no connection or background information. The movie's humor often falls flat, lost on the ears of those who don’t quite understand what they are referencing.  

Possibly the greatest surprise of the film is Dornan’s performance in his first ever comedic role. Dornan ditched his typically serious persona and took on his role with fantastic stride, bringing a character that is awkward, funny and cringe worthy in all the best ways possible. A henchman desperately vying for love from his evil leader, he at one point breaks out into song and dance like something straight out of a very bad off-broadway musical. The song, titled “Edgar’s Prayer,” has ridiculous lyrics, and Dornan reveals that he has an unexpected talent for singing. 

While “Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar” certainly isn’t the greatest comedy film of all time, it did garner a few laughs, gasps and stunned reactions at the sheer unhinged absurdity. Fans of “Bridesmaids” will likely feel disappointed at the disjointed plotlines and at times unnecessary raunchiness, but the film does still capture a silly female friendship with all of its ups and downs and quirks. At times the secondhand embarrassment mixed with shocked confusion is hard to bear, but somehow Barb and Star make it work.

All in all the film is absurdly ridiculous, at times hard to follow and incredibly stupid, but if you’re looking to have a laugh it might be worth a watch. That is, if you can put all hopes and expectations aside and just take it for what it is — weird. 

Arts and Culture Reporter

Grace Murray is an arts and culture reporter. She loves music, comedy television, photography and Disneyland. Send her an email if you have a local event, art show, performance, or exhibit!