Written by: Joe Lollo; student reporter
It’s hard to believe that Bridesmaids, one of the funniest movies ever made in my opinion, is 10 years old. I watched the film with my parents around five or six years ago, around the time I first watched SNL and instantly recognized Kristen Wiig from it and remembered I loved everything about it. The Bridesmaids powerhouse pair, Wiig alongside ex-Groundlings star Annie Mumolo, are back now, with Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, a new comedy celebrating female friendship in the same way as the prequel.
This film is immediately executed with extreme confidence – the pair strutting in their khaki shorts and big perms makes it seem like they’ve spent the last ten years playing them. But just like MacGruber or Popstar‘s Connor4Real, the SNL alums invented these characters for solely one ludicrous adventure. And just like MacGruber and Popstar, I know this is going to be THAT kind of SNL alum comedy – the one that audiences will overlook and dismiss for now but come back to revisit in the future. Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar is truly a future cult movie just waiting to be discovered.
After losing their jobs at a furniture store – where no real work is involved – best friends Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig) find themselves in an existential crisis. Not only did they rely on the store to host dinners, but selling furniture was their “purpose.” Lying about their layoff to their friends and getting kicked out of their “truth club” speeds up their depressive spiral even more, until there is one small sliver of hope left: their friend Mickey (Wendi McLendon-Covey) returns from a “rejuvenating” Florida vacation, recommending they go too. Excited, the women hightail it out of Nebraska to Vista Del Mar, for sun, sand, and men. “It smells like a Red Lobster,” proclaims Barb of this paradise.
What is delivered for the next hour and a half or so can only be described as comedic offroading. Similar to Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion, the two women babble on in character about everything, from raccoon sleeping patterns to piercings to the high art of jazz cover band Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine (who later make a cameo). And just like Romy & Michelle, it’s all super precise. Mumolo knows the right way to mispronounce Don Cheadle’s name, and Wiig knows the perfect look to fire back in agreement.
When they hit the dance floor to rock out to a club remix of “My Heart Will Go On,” which I hope sets a standard for something more movies should include, their oddball personalities flood the screen. They’ve created a movie that is totally them, and everything from the pastel production design to the punctuating camerawork is on their eccentric wavelength.
Unexpectedly, Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar accommodates Wiig with a second role: Sharon Fisherman, a villainous albino mastermind with a thirst for vengeance against Vista Del Mar. Assisted by her kidnapped child Yo-Yo and her number two, Edgar (Jamie Dornan), who hopes to one day achieve “official couple” status with his boss, Sharon plots to destroy the seaside community by unleashing a wave of killer mosquitos.
Wiig plays the evildoer as something I can only describe as Cate Blanchett mixed with Johnny Depp (make of this what you will), cackling up a storm as she watches Jamie Dornan enact her plan – or at least try. Edgar eventually catches the eye of Barb and Star, and while the two compete for his affection, he’s equally intoxicated by the prospect of real love. It’s the perfect role for Dornan, whose typical stoic persona melts away to reveal a smitten romantic who will belt a tune to profess both his love and his love for seagulls. Of course, this movie has a big beach-musical number.
The absurdist logic of Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar gives way to what I can only assume are Wiig and Mumolo’s wildest dreams. After the success of Bridesmaids, it was never quite clear what boxes they would fill. Wiig became an unlikely darling in films like Adventureland, The Skeleton Twins, Paul, and Welcome to Me, while Hollywood tried to plug her into IP vehicles like Ghostbusters and Wonder Woman 1984. Mumolo, on the other hand, has found a few gigs but nothing truly worthy of her comedic acting & writing talent.
Aside from penning some decent films, having minor roles in films like Bad Moms, and starring in two short-lived sitcoms, she has never really been in anything on the scale of the blockbuster. This film, on the other hand, allows them to enter their natural habitat in a similar raunchy comedy to Bridesmaids that evokes very similar vibes, although with much better execution, to 2010’s Spring Breakdown, another summer comedy starring SNL alums.
The freedom leads to a good kind of excess. From pastel setpieces to jokes about the Pringles Guy’s sexual abilities, Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar puts it all out there in the best way possible, with almost no rough patches. For viewers who are not fans of shamelessly stupid humor, this will be a tough ride. As Barb says, it’s a “real tit-flapper!”