Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr., Michael Hitchcock, Kwame Patterson, Reyn Doi, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Vanessa Bayer, Fortune Feimster, Rose Abdoo, Phyllis Smith, Mark Jonathan Davis, Karen Maruyama, Jayde Martinez, Hank Rogerson
Written by: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
Directed by: Josh Greenbaum
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude sexual content, drug use and some strong language
Running Time: 107
Date: 02/12/2021

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021)

1 Star (out of 4)

Florida Wheeze

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Just the title of this movie cracked me up when it first popped up in a press release. Add to that the fact that it's the first screenplay by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo since their Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids. As a longtime Wiig fan, I couldn't wait to see it. So imagine my utter shock as the movie rolled forward, and there was a dismayed silence where laughter should have been. It's probably the worst Wiig movie I've ever seen, and I've seen MacGruber.

Wiig and Mumolo play the title characters, two middle-aged divorcees with tight bunches of curly hair, who regularly wear "culottes." (The movie provides a helpful definition of this word up front.) They spend every waking moment together and can never stop chattering. In one scene, set during their plane ride, they each discover that their favorite name is "Trish." Over many hours, they take turns conjuring up an entire personality and life story for their Trish. But... it's not funny, or interesting. It's just chatter.

When they lose their jobs in a furniture store, they decide to take a trip to Florida. (Maybe that's the movie's problem right there...) They meet Edgar (Jamie Dornan) and, after consuming a giant, blue tropical drink in a bar, spend an intoxicated night with him. Edgar is a minion for an evil villain (also Wiig), who plans to destroy the small town with a batch of genetically-engineered mosquitos. But when he meets Star, he finds a new purpose in life.

Despite the dumb inclusion of a "save-the-town" subplot, with its inevitable final showdown, the main thrust of the story comes when Barb and Star begin lying to each other, Star pretending to be sick so she can sneak off for PG-13 sex with Edgar, and Barb so she can have lots of fun on her own. Damon Wayans Jr. plays a spy who keeps accidentally revealing private things about himself, followed by "Dammit!" It's the same joke over and over.

It's all just so tired, and so disappointingly few of the jokes manage to land. As my girlfriend pointed out, it feels like it was written by a child who had no conception of timing or language or even how the world works. There's a bar piano player who sings a song about "boobies," which just goes on and on for maybe a minute, growing ever more discomfiting.

Barb and Star were never SNL characters, but if they had been, then Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar would be the equivalent of something like It's Pat, A Night at the Roxbury, or The Ladies Man (remember those?). The movie will be on Amazon Prime as of February 12, 2021, for a rental price of $19.99. There's that, but also it'll be 107 minutes that you'll want back.

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