Josh Greenbaum’s Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar sets the stage, right from the get-go, of a childishly over-the-top comedy, as it opens with a kid on a bicycle (Reyn Doi) delivering newspapers while lip-syncing to Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb’s Guilty until he arrives at an evil lair. Inside of a James Bond-esque cave, the antagonist, Sharon Gordon Fisherman (Kristen Wiig), plans to murder the entire population of Vista Del Mar through satellite-controlled mosquitoes.
Meanwhile, after losing their job due to the furniture store closing down, best friends Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) fly to a resort in Vista Del Mar. They both fall in love with Edgar Paget (Jamie Dorman), without realizing he is Sharon’s henchman. What follows is one of the most original comedies I’ve seen in a long, long time, and the perfect temporary antidote to the experience we’re all collectively living right now.
Comedies that present themselves as being childishly stupid only succeed if they take their type of humor to the extremes and bathe in it. This is why Sacha Baron Cohen has developed great success with his Borat films as he understands that the only way to make brainless, offensive comedies funny is by reveling in it and always going the extra mile, even if it could be extremely uncomfortable. Director Josh Greenbaum and screenwriters Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo perfectly understand what it takes to make the audience laugh at every turn, even if the plot of their film is completely ridiculous.
They know that everything they’re doing is, indeed, completely ridiculous and could fail miserably if the concept stays at its most simplistic form, without embracing its surrealist structure and tone. However, Barb and Star never once misses a beat in absurdity, with comedic timing rivaling the likes of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor’s extravagant comedies, in particular, Stir Crazy and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.
Right from its opening scene, Barb and Star transports you away in its hypnotic childish spirit with every sequence being an unpredictable adventure. There isn’t a single sequence where I wasn’t in pure stitches, and many of them involve surprising cameos and recurring bits that are way too funny to spoil. There are times where the audience might think the film will revert to simplicity, but throws in one or two grandiose musical numbers to spice things up.
Jamie Dornan’s supporting performance as Edgar gets a surprising bout of character development through song. “Edgar’s Prayer” will either make you groan or go completely nuts, depending on the type of comedy you like or your willingness to accept the film for what it is: a purely escapist and absurd adventure. The film’s two musical numbers are lively and brim with infectious energy, with Dornan, in particular, stealing the show with his incredible plasticity as a musical dancer via pirouettes. The chemistry he has with Barb and Star is terrific, with dynamite comedic timing imbuing their sequences.
There are some who will dismiss Barb and Star as being another moronic comedy, in an attempt to hold comedy to a high standard. Yet, the sooner you accept the film for what it is, the quicker you’ll find immense value. Comedy doesn’t need to be sophisticated and/or meticulously researched to make us laugh. Sometimes, when reduced to its simplest, most childish form, this is where it shines the most. There is nothing Wiig, Mumolo, Dornan, and Damon Wayans Jr. (in a small, but incredibly hilarious supporting role), won’t do to make us laugh and have the time of our lives.
Every bit of dialogue is refreshing, its musical numbers are incredibly freeing and even the smallest detail could make an audience member fall out of their chair, howling in uncontrollable laughter. From its opening sequence to a post-credit scene, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar will sweep you away in its hypnotic power as one of the most memorable (and original) comedies you’ll see this entire year. If you want an unhinged, insanely creative time at the movies, rent Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar immediately. You will not regret it, trust me.
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Brimming with incredible energy and non-stop laughter, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is the movie the entire world needs right now.
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