Barb & Star, a Batty, Wacky Good Parody

It’s a little strange calling any comedy a future cult classic a mere few days into its video-on-demand release, but Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar is a goofy, effervescent hoot whose peculiar sense of humor and memorable one-liners make it ripe for a passionate fanbase. It’s inconsistent in its laugh-a-minute goals, and yet this go-for-broke, no-joke bizarro-world satire wins you over anyway through sheer force of will. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo cut a perfect comedic couple as two middle-aged best friends from the suburban doldrums of Nebraska who, on a mischevious whim (for them), decide to whisk themselves on a beach vacation where the sun is high, the suntan lotion is thick, and young Jamie Dornan is a realistic romantic probability. After so many lovable chubby lugs have somehow wooed women far out of their league, I won’t besmirch the rare movie that indulges in fantasy for women. That being said, the silliest part of this cockamamie world is that Dornan is an insecure, lovelorn puppy who just wants a gal to commit. Maybe the guy oughta seek out garish comedy going forward, as his naturally earnest sensibilities clearly lend themselves to the Barb & Stars of the world versus badly written erotic thrillers. Wiig here is playing double duty in the vein of Mike Meyers in Austin Powers, a choice I wasn’t overly fond of given the air of miscasting around her villainous Dr. Lady. The obvious homage to Dr. Evil doesn’t work, although her plot to unleash dangerous mosquitos upon the town of Vista Del Mar is amusingly small-potatoes for a Bond villain’s big plot. Director Josh Greenbaum’s good-natured approach ultimately won me over in spite of these failures, the candy-colored, absurdist tableau of off-beat cackles and over-the-top characterizations somehow coming together to produce a jolly movie that could’ve easily been a major folly. Throw in funny supporting gags for Damon Wayans Jr, Vanessa Bayer, and Phyllis Smith, not to mention a couple of great cameos, and Barb & Star is nearly everything we need in a Ferrell/McKay/Wiig collaboration. Wiig and Mumolo together recall the heightened zaniness of Ricky Bobby and Step Brothers, and their film will likely only grow in estimation alongside those comedy classics.

P.S. and now I know what “culottes” are, and will forever hear that word in a frilly Nebraskan/Wisconsin accent.

Grade: B-

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