Friday, March 12, 2021

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: Movie Review

Unlikable, unfunny, relentless absurdity.
Apparently, I'm contrarian to some of the big releases thus far in 2021. After liking Locked Down and hating this one, I’m feeling backwards. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar isn’t funny. Ridiculous, yes; absurd, yes; silly, yes; energetic and colourful, of course. But it’s hateful not likable, too far removed from anything relatable to be funny. Comedy should have at least an element of truth, this has none, it’s pure nonsense.   2021

Directed by: Josh Greenbaum

Screenplay by: Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo

Kristen Wiig, throughout her SNL career, has frequently played characters who are ‘off’, who can spout ridiculous nonsense that catches the audience off-guard, and can be a ray of unfettered optimism in the face of ridiculous nonsense. And that’s Star and Annie Mumolo’s Barb to a T. Everything about Barb and Star, from their dream job at a failing furniture store, to their talking club, to their hot dog soup, to their matching beds, is ridiculous nonsense. It doesn’t feel like the film is trying to say it’s okay to be sheltered or na├»ve or uncool as they fling Barb and Star into a tale of world terrorism. It feels like the film is making fun of them and taking everything to the extreme, luckily nobody could ever relate to Barb and Star, but it does give off an underlying meanness to the film.

The pure joy and happiness which many others have referred to in this film just feels fake to me. Partly because everything has been taken to the extreme and is far removed from reality, so the joy and happiness doesn’t come from anything real. But primarily it’s because for most of the film, Barb and Star’s friendship is fake pleasantries and passive aggressive fiction. When they both fall for the same man (Edgar, Jamie Dornan), their entire story is lying to each other, trying to steal Edgar from each other, and covering up past lies with more lies, all while maintaining the same happy friendship from before. Literally the definition of fake, and that is more than an hour of the film’s run-time.

The one highlight is Jamie Dornan. His pathetic-ness comes across as nice, and he has the perfect medium between extreme absurdity and being real. His musical number, “Edgar’s Prayer” is just him on the beach, baring his soul; that level of ridiculousness is funny but the rest is too extreme. Every other musical number is a cacophony of chaos. “I Love Boobies” is a bad song, I do not need to hear it three times to know that.

Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar is relentless in the absurdity. It definitely has an infectious energy, but an unlikable, unfunny energy that couldn’t strike a truthful note if they tried.