Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021)
Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.

Release Date: February 12th, 2021 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Josh Greenbaum Actors: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, Reyn Doi, Vanessa Bayer, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Michael Hitchcock, Damon Wayans Jr.

 


 

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upervillain henchboy Yoyo (Reyn Doi) descends into a secret lair in a tree to attend a meeting with evil mastermind Dr. Lady, her inept boyfriend and right-hand-man Edgar Paget (Jamie Dornan), and scientist Bradley (Patrick Bristow), who has finally perfected genetically-modified mosquitos with fatal stings. And no one can stop them. Of course, this unexpected, Austin Powers-type opening sequence smash-cuts to two best friends (and roommates) in their 40s, Star (Kristen Wiig) and Barb (Annie Mumolo), as they chat on a couch at the local Jennifer Convertibles furniture store – where they work.

“I feel like we’re fading away.” Unfortunately for them, the business is closing and their beloved jobs are finished, putting them in a particularly difficult situation. New careers for this middle-aged duo won’t be a walk in the park. But when a longtime friend mentions the paradisiacal qualities of Vista Del Mar in Florida, they drop everything (such as the uncomfortably intimate talking club they’re unceremoniously banned from due to a single small lie), pack their culottes and curlers, and fly out for a rejuvenating, six-night vacation in the sun.

“Have you heard of traveler’s diarrhea?” With a pseudo-nemesis hotel manager, a la “The Out-of-Towners,” booze-and-drug-fueled partying (like in every teen movie of the ’90s or, more recently, “Booksmart”), and toned-down shenanigans reminiscent of “Dumb and Dumber” and the films of Andy Samberg (and a hint of “Horrible Bosses”), this brightly-colored, light-hearted comedy instantly betrays a confused (or garbled) tone. Does it want to be a spy parody? An adventurous road movie? A slapstick comedy? A whimsical romance? A partial musical? Or a Saturday Night Live skit turned feature?

“I feel like I got a soul-douche.” Most of the time, as the picture weaves in and out of an Austin Powers chapter and a best-friends escapade along the lines of Romy and Michele fused with Bill and Ted – further combined with snippets of “Thelma & Louise” and “The Heartbreak Kid” – plenty of dated references and a fairly continual soundtrack of pop songs populate flashbacks and increasingly absurdist humor. Unfortunately, even with the important though not entirely effective themes of prioritizing friendship, feeling alive (or taking chances), and embracing truthfulness, there’s a lot of substance missing from the various minuscule misadventures.

When the actors don’t appear as if they’re making this movie solely as an excuse to be on vacation, the humor is inconsistent at best. Perhaps the PG-13 rating is too limiting, or the characters and situations just aren’t as inspired as they could be, or the jokes aren’t daring enough (Damon Wayans Jr. in a completely failed throwaway of a supporting role is one of the greatest disappointments), or the fact that no one plays it straight to contrast the over-the-top personas is the biggest detriment to laughs. Either way, so much of “Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar” is aggravatingly unfunny. Additionally, when realism is this lacking (fantasy regularly interrupts any sensible elements of the plot), even with a sympathetic, mostly harmless pair, it’s difficult to care too much about their plights (as trivial as they are to begin with; major conflicts never feel even remotely relevant). The inability for the gags to land (there’s not a genuine knee-slapper throughout), however, is the picture’s greatest undoing.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10