Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar

At the Movies Blog

Phyllis Smith and Vanessa Bayer were the two best things in the movie.

I hate when I have to use this line in a comedy that’s bad, and features Saturday Night Live alumni; but here it goes. This feels like an SNL skit; and one that’s not very funny (which would fit with the show these days, which hasn’t been funny in years). That’s a shame, because Kristen Wiig was hysterical on that show.

The movie starts off with her selling furniture at a store, and I thought how much I loved her as the wacky Target cashier on SNL. She co-wrote this with Annie Mumolo, who plays her partner in crime. The film starts as they refuse to sell a couch at their store, because they like sitting on it to talk during work. One of them says, “Maybe we should fart on it, so nobody wants to buy it.”

If that level of humor works for you, seek this out.

Barb (Mumolo)  and Star (Wiig) are Midwestern, middle-aged besties who…have voices that will grate on you after 10 minutes. I’m guessing that’s supposed to be funny. They’re in a book club…err..a “talk club” which has some actresses that were a joy to see. Vanessa Bayer from SNL (who was hysterical in Office Christmas Party), and Phyllis Smith (The Office and Inside Out). I want to see those two characters in a comedy. Just watching Smith laugh and do her horse impersonation was a blast.

When Barb and Star lose their jobs (not from farting on the furniture, but because the store is closing), they happen to run into a tanned blonde friend, who raves about a resort she went to in Florida. “It was like having a soul douche,” she explains.

Okay, that line was cute, and there are a few good lines in this movie. For example, they arrive in Florida and when they get out of the shuttle, one of them says, “It smells like Red Lobster.”

Although I should stop writing the few funny lines there were, so if you do see this hot mess of a movie, you can at least get some enjoyment out of it.

There’s a song and dance routine when they arrive at the gaudy resort, and it’s not the only time this becomes a musical. There’s one wacky moment with Jamie Dornan singing about his love, and it has him climbing up a palm tree. It was at that point my wife looked at me and said, “This is so utterly ridiculous and stupid.”

I thought of how the great comedy Earth Girls Are Easy had Julie Brown doing a song and dance number — ‘Cause I’m a Blonde — on the beach. Sometimes these musical elements can work on screen, but they don’t here.

I thought of other movies that had similar comedy styles to this, but worked much better. Since these two women are so utterly stupid, I thought of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Yet as dopey as those two were, they still seemed like believable characters. They were also endearing enough that you could enjoy their shenanigans. 

When Barb and Star are on a plane, and both find out their favorite name is “Trish” and go on about all the things Trish would do in life…it reminded me of how clever it was when Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly became “best friends” in Step Brothers (side note: Ferrell was one of the producers of this).

I was reminded of another, much better movie with a similar theme – former SNL star Mike Myers, with Austin Powers; because there’s a subplot with a villain (played by Wiig) wanting to release deadly mosquitoes to kill everyone in the town of Vista Del Mar. Oh damn, that reminded me…Wiig was also the villain in that disastrous Wonder Woman this year, too. Oy.

My wife said early on how fun the outfits were. Yet through the rest of the movie, she just kept saying periodically, “God I hate this. It’s not the least bit funny.”

The best cameo was Andy Garcia playing Tommy Bahama. The worst was Reba McEntire playing Trish. The weirdest was Morgan Freeman (well, a sound alike), playing a crab offering life advice (but really just talking about Morgan Freeman’s career). 

It’s amazing to think that these two women who wrote Bridesmaids, gave us this disaster. And when Bridesmaids came out, everyone praised the fact that there could be a raunchy comedy with a female cast, instead of the usual boys club. Well, this is a wacky comedy with two female leads, written by two females and…critics should be attacking it the way we do the bad Adam Sandler movies. So let’s bring on the equal rights and savage this (although the dopey critics on Rotten Tomatoes seem to be basking in the wackiness of it).

I’d rather be attacked by those mosquitoes than sit through this ever again.

I’ll give it an extra ½ star for the funny “I Love Boobs” song, and other humor the piano player gave us with his tunes (side note: Joe Walsh has a similar ditty).

1 ½ stars out of 5.

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