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REVIEW: 'Barb and Star' offer respite from dark news cycle

REVIEW: 'Barb and Star' offer respite from dark news cycle

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Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar

Kristen Wiig as Star and Annie Mumolo as Barb in "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar."

There are enough laughs in “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” to make you feel like you’ve had a momentary vacation from pandemics, politics and protests.

It’s not anything more than the comedies Will Ferrell concocts with friends from “Saturday Night Live,” just a little more (dare we say it?) grounded.

This one – also “SNL”-heavy – stars Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo as two fortysomething Nebraskans who go on vacation after losing their “dream” jobs at Jennifer Convertibles.

Since another friend raved about Vista Del Mar, they figure it’s the place for them, too.

Meanwhile, an evil woman with a vendetta plots to cause chaos at the seaside community’s Seafood Jam.

Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar.

Jamie Dornan plays a love interest for Barb and Star in "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar."

There’s plenty of “Despicable Me” in that part of the plot but, thankfully, it doesn’t dominate. Instead, Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig) delight in all the kitschy things that litter the beach. They get matching seashell bracelets, plan banana boat excursions and try every drink known to sunburned vacationer. While at the bar, they meet another lost soul (Jamie Dornan) who takes a shine to them and their fruity drinks. Sure enough, they have a fling, then realize a threesome isn’t probably the best thing they should do. Both sneak off to rendezvous with the stranger, unaware that he’s the boyfriend of Sharon Gordon Fisherman (also Wiig), who’s arranging the demise of the place she used to call home.

Directed by Josh Greenbaum, “Barb and Star” is best when it lets its two stars riff on everything and nothing. They chat incessantly and delight at anything that strikes them as cute. Although they’re supposed to be from a less accent-heavy state, they use “Fargo”-lite phrases, buy anything sold at a kiosk and idolize the name “Trish.” They’re just plain goofy – and that’s where the joy comes in.

When Dr. Lady starts plotting to kill people, the film deflates its charm.

Dornan, who’s game for just about anything, fits in nicely, particularly when he’s wooing the two women. He never judges (which could explain why he has a thing with Fisherman), but isn’t afraid to wear pastels in a variety of forms.

Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar

Annie Mumolo, left, as Barb and Kristen Wiig as Star in "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar." 

Barb and Star are partial to culottes, too, and pack so much junk you’d think they’d have something that could ward off genetically modified mosquitoes.

“Barb and Star” features several surprise cameos, a hat tip to Jimmy Buffett and a talking crab who manages to send up Morgan Freeman on his way to the ocean. It’s a lot and, at the same time, it’s not enough.

Goofy, fast-paced and utterly charming, “Barb and Star” may not be built on solid ground, but it reminds you when “Saturday Night Live” created its own characters and let them do their thing.

This doesn’t need more cowbell, just a premise that allows all those folks back home to have a field day at others’ expense.


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