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Film Review: Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021)

IMDb Link: Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021)
Director: Josh Greenbaum
Writers: Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan

Synopsis: Lifelong friends Barb and Star embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time – ever.

Due to the pandemic, there has been a lacking amount of comedies that have released. If a film is not a contender for this year’s Academy Awards or is wanting a cinematic release in the UK, it has not been released in the past four months. Most of the films that people have the choice to watch right now are heavy dramas, Oscar contenders, and independent movies, so have a comedy of this style out now is a nice boost of variety.

All of the leading performances in this film are wonderful. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo bounce off each other so well and help establish this lovely relationship between Barb and Star. However, it is actually Jamie Dornan who steals the show and gives the best performance in the film. I love the choices that he has been making recently, and this film gives him a chance to show off his comedic skills – which he seems to have a lot of.

If you are in need of some comic relief, this is the film for you. It can be hard to get comedy right, especially of a film of this style, but the over-exaggerated nature of it works. This is a film that is extremely campy, and yet it is the best thing about the film. All of the technical elements blend together nicely and the jokes usually land well, down to the performances and the writing. It is easy to get sucked into this world and love the fun nature of it all.

During lockdown, many of us have wanted to get away on holiday and forget about everything going on in our lives. This film lets us escape for a few hours and get whisked away to a gorgeous beach resort, cocktails in hand and all. It is hard not to admire the craft that went into bringing this film to life, and the fun that the production design had with mini beach stalls, room decorating, and even the cocktail names and themes themselves.

As much as I love the production and characters, I sadly could not care about the plot whatsoever. There were stretches of time that the film was focus solely on the location and our main characters, and that is when the film shines. When it goes back to the main story, I just wanted to skip it and be back on the beach. What is also a shame is that there is a significant chunk of the film in which Barb and Star aren’t even together. Their comedy and performances work when complementing each other, so it was a shame that they were separated for what felt like a lot of the film.

The main plot of the film features an Austin Powers-inspired villain story, which should work for how campy the film is and the overall tone. However, just as the story itself is weak, I also found the villain to be extremely weak here. There are some good ideas within the story, but it never fully got to be more than just a side thought and never fully got away from the cliches that it uses to tell the narrative. It does have a negative impact when we reach the end of this film.

Even with a story that I feel is not as compelling as it should be, I would still recommend checking out Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar. There is so much to enjoy, and in the world we are in right now I feel we all deserve a little vacation. Wiig, Mumolo, and Dornan provide that comedic relief that I certainly needed at this moment in time.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar is available to rent or purchase now.

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