‘Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar’ Review: Kitsch Fever Dream

With their 2011 hit movie, “Bridesmaids,” the co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo accomplished a rare feat by weaving together a thoughtful portrait of female friendship and a bona fide gross-out comedy. Their long-awaited follow-up, “Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar,” takes the duo’s gal pal humor in a new direction, muting the raunch and tossing out the emotional truths for a zanier, spoof-ier adventure complete with random musical numbers, an evil underground lair and a talking crab.

Besties Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig), middle-aged motormouths from small town Nebraska, are determined to gain back their mojos with a Floridian getaway (consider it their version of “Eat Pray Love”-style redemption). Endearingly wholesome and insular, our Midwestern ladies are struck giddy by all the tacky treasures and lusty men enticingly clad in head-to-toe Tommy Bahama. Wiig, Mumolo and the director Josh Greenbaum unleash fever dream madness against the backdrop of this kitschy pastel paradise.

The whole thing runs a mile a minute, shifting from one harebrained scenario to the next with a cartoonish disregard for logic. Star begins a romance with a himbo henchman (Jamie Dornan) prone to outbursts of song and dance, while a vengeful mistress with a familiar mug plots to unleash a murderous horde of mosquitoes. There’s also a human cannonball, and a lounge singer who croons exclusively about breasts.

Barb and Star’s oddball palavering has its charms thanks to Wiig and Mumolo’s natural rapport, but the characters’ silliness is less gut-wrenchingly funny than it is mostly weird and whimsical. “Barb and Star” offers a mixed bag of laughs, often feeling like a Frankenstein assembly of various sketches. Still, I can’t help but admire its commitment to the act, and its gloriously unhinged absurdity.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes. Rent or buy on Google Play, FandangoNow and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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