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Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar – Movie Review

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Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar – Movie Review

Rating: C+ (Above Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Lionsgate

Comedies have the ability to go to some unusual places and many have certainly chosen to take advantage of the ridiculous and over-the-top worlds they create. From the start, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar establishes itself as existing in a universe unlike our own. One isn’t even sure where it’s going as we follow two separate storylines. The funnier bits come from the central arc with middle-aged best friends Barb and Star, as they take part in rambling conversations with themselves. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who also wrote the screenplay, commit to the roles entirely. However, there’s also a secondary plot that mostly pads the film out and the longer Barb and Star plays, the more bonkers the gags get and the jokes do run thin after a while.

There are some chuckle worthy moments with Barb and Star and their inability to stop talking about the most nonsensical subjects. It also doesn’t take long to understand who these two characters are and there are some decent laughs with the random things they yap about. One sequence on an airplane is especially good at building the gag. Director Josh Greenbaum also brings energy to a few song numbers, most notably one when the leads enter the hotel. Although there is another song with Jamie Dornan that comes out of nowhere and adds nothing. That’s the main problem facing Barb and Star as there are so many scenes that go nowhere and make the film feel longer than it is.

The other storyline, involving an evil villain plot, is so bizarre in its execution. It feels like it belongs in an entirely different film, but maybe that’s the entire point. However, one senses the movie stop when you cut to these characters and one wishes it would return to whatever Barb and Star are doing. Yet even that starts to tire after a while, as they get more entangled with this other plot. Barb and Star dabbles a lot in random humour. A few provide chuckles, but most end up strange just for the sake of it.

We get more of these sequences entering the third act and while one admires the filmmakers for going for broke, they’re more distracting than actually amusing. One bit with a crab seems to go on forever and a cameo from a recognisable actor just leaves one befuddled. Probably owing to Wiig’s background on the show, Barb and Star really does feel like one of those Saturday Night Live movies that attempted to stretch a skit to feature length. It’s almost surprising these characters didn’t debut at Studio 8H. The entire film tries desperately hard to work a plot around these two, when they’re at their best in deep, rambling conversation.

One certainly can’t call Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar uninspired, as the filmmakers throw every possible joke at it. Nothing goes untried, but its brand of humour will definitely work for some viewers better than others. Eventually, what starts out as middling amusing becomes somewhat annoying. What stands out beyond the random gags is the villain and what they decide to do with that character. At times, Barb and Star can feel like two underdeveloped films smashed together and it works hard to make the threads run smoothly.

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE