Bridesmaids co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo reunite to write and star in a barmy, off-the-wall comedy about two dull Midwesterners on the holiday of a lifetime where they stumble upon an epically bizarre evil plot by a sci-fi villainess
Starring Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, and Damon Wayans Jr.
A decade after the incredible success of Bridesmaids, co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo reunite for what feels like a crazy fever dream of a comedy project. Starring as Star and Barb respectively, Wiig and Mumolo craft a tale about two middle-aged Midwesterners who impulsively spend their money to finally break out of their small town for an epic vacation in the sun – specifically within Vista Del Mar.
Barb and Star come across similarly to Austin Powers, with such well-defined quirks that make it feel as if Wiig and Mumolo have been dreaming this up in the entire decade that has transpired since they last collaborated. With their well-established love of culottes, giant hair and beautiful accents, both women feel well defined and realistic even though they are incredibly absurd.
Their lives in Nebraska revolve around their job at Jennifer’s Convertibles. So attached are they to this position, and each other, in fact, that they even turn up to work on days when they aren’t meant to be working, just so that they can sit and chat and sell sofas. They also famously forget which one is actually meant to be working on any given day. They love their display sofa so much that they dissuade people from buying it, and plan to use the dining set to host their Thanksgiving dinner. Both women are single, Barb being a widow and Star a divorcée, and live together within a twin room.
Content in their mid-life humdrum bubble, their lives are torn out from under them when Jennifer’s Convertibles closes. Lying about their employment status also gets them booted out of their one social activity, Talking Club, by the by-the-book leader Debbie (Vanessa Bayer). When they hear about the magical oasis of Vista Del Mar from a transformed friend, the pair leave the trappings of their Midwestern existence for the holiday of a lifetime.
Little do they know that supervillainess Sharon Gordon Fisherman (also Wiig, further cementing comparisons to Austin Powers) has devious machinations for the seaside resort involving genetically modified killer mosquitoes out of revenge for an unspecified traumatic event that occurred to her there. Henchman Edgar (Jamie Dornan), who desperately hopes for Sharon to fall in love with him, bases himself in the same hotel where Barb and Star are staying, where he sets their hearts apace.
In Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar it’s evident that Wiig and Mumolo have had an absolute ball throwing every single joke that they have at the wall. There are so many gags throughout the film, even the brazenly absurd, both subtle visuals and entirely silly, yet the pair have the incredible confidence to bounce from one amusing idea to the next, like an SNL sketch on speed. The ways in which Barb and Star communicate is giddily intoxicating, alternating between painful banality, to an amusingly played out imagining of a fictional woman “Trish” that only gets funnier the longer it’s played with, to then becoming remarkably comfortable discussing the numerous gymnastic sexual positions they have found themselves in the night before.
Casting Jamie Dornan, whose previous film and TV roles have typified him as a rugged, emotionally stoic heartthrob is a sheer stroke of genius, especially when his role is the precise opposite here, as he continues to express his love in every way conceivably possible, including a power ballad while frolicking on the beach.
The film is full of downright absurd moments, from Sharon’s evil plan, to her entire backstory, to a submarine powered by a small child, to random musical numbers such that the audience practically get whiplash trying to keep up with the onslaught of amusing, whacky imagery thrown at them. In fact, the entire character of Sharon is entirely bizarre, with visuals reminiscent of Sia, Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka and Cate Blanchett’s Irina Spalko in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but Wiig is clearly having the time of her life with the larger than life persona.
Critically, there’s nothing about Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar that screams attempting to recapture the success of Bridesmaids. It’s not trying to set the box office ablaze, but merely seems to be about Wiig and Mumolo going all out for their own amusement – and it really shines through. It’s unchallenging, light, fun and almost inevitably destined for cult status in the years to come. Fortunately saved the embarrassment of a box office debut by releasing straight to VOD, Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar is a riotous laugh-fest.
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar is available to rent and buy through digital retailers now.