It has been quite a long-time since I’ve sat down to watch a movie and was incredibly surprised to see what unfolded. In an age where nearly every film is either based on nostalgia, a biopic, a comic book movie (that has been spoiled to death before it’s release) or another kind of adaptation, it is rare to find films that genuinely surprise you. Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar is a wild ride that is also an absolute delight.
The film follows best friends Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) as they are let go from their jobs at a furniture store. Living a somewhat quiet and boring life in a midwestern town, the two decide to embark on a vacation to Vista Del Mar, Florida. The pair bring their quirky sensibilities and insanely mundane yet eccentric way of life to the coastal state, and what unfolds is an adventure no one could predict.
Wiig and Mumolo wrote a film that is so indicative of their comedic prowess that it is essentially impossible to see this film as anything other than a passion project for the writers of Bridesmaids. The two were probably inspired by Zoolander, and that is as much as I can say without raising one’s expectations for the film. The story is kooky, funny, relatable, but ultimately, very weird. One of those “you have to see it believe it” type of stories that truly is worth the watch.
Technically, the film is very impressive from director Josh Greenbaum and cinematographer Toby Oliver. The film spares no detail to maximize the fun and zany comedy. The bright and colourful set design and costumes make for a wonderful experience and invite you into Barb and Star’s world. Every detail in Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar is vividly realized and is supported by a strong script and performances from comedic geniuses Wiig and Mumolo. The two women play their characters in a way that makes you truly believe that these women actually exist. Their zany antics never get boring or tiresome, and only become more and more endearing as the film goes on. Along for the ride are other comedic favourites and cameos sprinkled throughout the film, however, the true standouts are newcomer Reyn Doi and Jamie Dornan.
Dornan is surprisingly excellent in the film. The actor who has had a steady career of playing serious or brooding characters breaks out of his mould to give one of the most excitable and hilarious performances in recent memory. He has one particular moment that rivals that of Zac Efron’s “Bet On It” scene from High School Musical 2. Trust me, that comparison will make sense once you watch. Young Reyn Doi is a stellar addition to the cast as he sets the tone and is easily one of the best comedic parts in the film. With his very few scenes, he shows off a range that sets him apart from many talented young actors, and hopefully his career skyrockets from here.
Barb & Star Go To Vista del Mar is a whirlwind of a film. At times it feels as though you are suffering from a hallucinatory side-effect from an allergic reaction to shrimp – but in a good way. It attacks your senses in a way that can be overwhelming, but it all pays off in the end.
Barb & Mar Go To Vista Del Mar is available on PVOD on February 12
by Ferdosa Abdi
Ferdosa (she/her) is a lifetime student of cinema. Three of her current favourite films are: Addams Family Values, Cinderella (2015), and Emma. (2020). On Twitter you can see her support women-led cinema, her ongoing love/hate relationship with Disney, her totally healthy obsession with Eva Green, and her great admiration for Guillermo del Toro.