Film in review: “Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar”

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The Winonan’s film reviewer rates “Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar”

Noah Mruz, film reviewer

You can’t lie, we all like to laugh. Sometimes we laugh at things that are dumb just because they’re dumb. However, if you were to make a movie off of almost entirely dumb, wacky humor, you might have a problem. Enter “Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar,” the latest comedy from producer/director Adam Mckay. The same man who brought you “Step Brothers,” “The Anchorman,” “Vice” and “The Big Short.”
The film follows Barb and Star, two middle-aged women, just after being fired from their jobs and shunned by their friends. They both need the vacation, and are nearly inseparable, ready to be attached at the hip as they visit Vista Del Mar and leave their midwestern lifestyle for a while.
Kristen Wiig plays Star, while the antagonist of the film is Sharon Gordan Fisherman and Annie Mumolo stars as Barb. The film is good based on the strength of its acting, but the plot and editing severely take away from this film.
The actors do a great job. Wiig and Mumolo play midwestern moms well, and anyone from the Midwest will enjoy their portrayal.
The biggest problem with the acting is the two musical scenes in the film, which are just awkwardly there. The actors do great outside of singing, then the musical number starts, and they are left barely lip-syncing someone else’s singing.
It really feels like some scenes could have used a second or third take in these instances. Most jokes are delivered well, and others are just kind of dumb for the sake of being wacky and goofy, but just because I didn’t find those jokes as funny as others, doesn’t mean I’m going to knock the actors or the film.
The film’s plot is confusing. First off, trailers and the beginning of the film imply that this takes place somewhere in the 80s, but there are a ton of contemporary references, which just feels strange. If the film starts with a kid delivering newspapers on a bike with headphones with a big metal wire going over the head, and the style of the houses and people resembles the 80s, it’s a fair assessment.
Again, the musical numbers just really detract from the film, and since there are only 2 of them, they stick out. There are several moments where magical things happen for the joke rather than the plot, making the movie feel very strange.
These issues are minor in comparison to the film’s antagonist. Spoiler, 6 minutes into the film the film’s antagonist, Sharon Gordan Fisherman, wants to release thousands of killer mosquitos in the town of Vista Del Mar to kill everyone. It’s somehow a B-plot to the story and feels very out of place.
Other plot moments are built up, but go nowhere, while other moments that feel more like a joke in the film are suddenly given extreme importance. It feels strange, and I think a big part of what makes it feel so strange is the editing.
The editing of a film is the most important part of a movie, although you should never notice it unless the editor does something TRULY amazing. Even then, I can only think of two examples of perfect editing. If you ever notice this in a film, that’s a very bad sign.
In this movie there are several moments where it felt like the editor got bored and wanted to put his own wacky joke sounds in, like when buttons are pressed, it plays a different sound than what you’d expect, or when a character shakes their head, and a cartoonish noise is heard. These moments are not too common in the film but they are very noticeable. It’s a strange detail for sure and sadly lowers the film.
Well, I’ve been to Vista Del Mar with Barb and Star and I should let you know if the trip is worth it.
Overall, I enjoyed the film. It had some great jokes and a fun premise, minus the terrorist plot with the mosquitos.
Would I recommend you go out and rent it right now? No, absolutely not, as it is 20 dollars to rent and I would say that it is not worth the price of the stream.
Would I tell you to watch it a few months from now when it’s streaming somewhere? Yes, it’s a fun film that doesn’t require too much thinking and is very easy to get invested in, minus the strange songs and weird editing. I am giving “Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar” 2.5 stars.