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Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar -

This ridiculous comedy stars (no pun intended) Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo as middle-aged divorcees and best friends who, after finding themselves at the end of their ropes in their dull Nebraska town, vacation in the titular Florida locale. As luck would have it, the villainous Sharon Gordon Fisherman has sicced her loyal lapdog Edgar (Jamie Dornan) on a task to kill everyone there. My sticking point with absurdist comedy movies is that so many of them are akin to gum that quickly loses its flavor in that their absurdism soon becomes normal. Luckily, this one paces it in such a way that I thought "you've got to be kidding me" from the first scene to the last one.

One aspect of this movie that really makes it work is its heightened aesthetics. With the pals' hometown not being far off from the sickly-sweet suburb in Edward Scissorhands and Vista Del Mar resembling a cruise commercial with the color contrast set to 100%, it has a look that's shamelessly unrealistic, which is a good thing. It also helps that Wiig and Mumolo have such good comedic chemistry, which is on par with SNL's Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon. A scene on an airplane where they endlessly debate the qualities of the name "Trish," much to the annoyance of the other passengers, is one I would have been happy to have lasted for another 15 minutes. While Mumolo is no slouch, Wiig is the definite MVP here. She does double duty by also playing Fisherman, who is one of the funniest villains I've seen in a movie in a while, not to mention funniest looking in that she resembles an extreme version of Cate Blanchett's baddie in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Dornan is just deserving of recognition, though, especially since his performance vitalizes the dour and cold image he's cultivated for himself. His solo song and dance scene, which resembles a '90s Old Navy commercial on acid, is one of the movie's funniest moments. The other standout performance is Vanessa Bayer's in a small role as the fascistic leader of a friend group.

Despite avoiding traps other absurdist comedies walk into, I think this is a very good movie, but not quite a great one. As much as the action movie plot amused me, it still comes across like one I've seen several times before. Also, not to take away from Damon Wayans Jr.'s performance as a secret agent, but I felt that his character is underutilized. It still stands as one of the better comedies of 2021 as well as a reminder of the values of friendship and of stepping outside of your comfort zone every now and then. You'll also finally learn what culottes are.