By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Barb and Star initially seems like an SNL sketch idea that never made it to the show and seems destined for failure in a feature treatment. Going into this movie, I tempered my expectations accordingly, but was ultimately pleasantly surprised with the delightful comedic results that this silly and goofy comedy achieves. Both Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who also co-wrote the film, obviously have much love for their characters and this love is clearly evident in their committment to them and their story. Director Josh Greenbaum also shares this love and admiration for the dynamic, middle-aged duo and presents their movie with much aplomb and glee.
Wiig and Mumolo star as middle-aged best friends Star and Barb. Star, who is a divorcee, and Barb who is a widow, both don’t have much excitement in their lives and are in much need of a major change. After losing their comfortable jobs at Jennifer’s Convertibles, the two friends decide to take a friend’s suggestion and take a much-needed vacation in Vista Del Mar, Florida. While they are a initially a little out of their element at the lavish and colorful resort, lots of liquid courage helps spice things up after they meet a fellow vacationer named Edgar (Jamie Dorman).
What they don’t know, however, is that Edgar is actually working as a pawn in a nefarious plot to destroy the resort. After a rather embarrassing and traumatic childhood experience in Vista Del Mar, the angry and vindictive Sharon Gordon Fisherman (also portrayed by Wiig) uses Edgar to infiltrate the resort where she will unleash a massive swarm of killer mosquitoes. As Barb and Star become more involved with Edgar, the lovesick, hopeless romantic becomes torn between his discovery of true love and his previous committment to his Sharon.
I had an absolute blast with this movie. Between the goofy antics of Barb and Star and the dynamic and hilarious comedic turn by Jamie Dorman, the exercise is silliness and utter absurdity offers pure comedy gold. Though the wicked plot by the villain is dumb and ridiculous, it never, ever overplays its role in the grand scheme of the film. The hilarious writing and tremendous comedic acting by both Wiig and Mumolo should be a masterclass of comedy and improvisation. Their skills are on perfect display here with two artists sharing incredible chemistry and timing.
As I stated above, Dorman is an absolute delight and jumps into his silly, but heartfelt role with a mix of wreckless abandon and sincerity. This is definitely a more exciting and inspired performance than any work he did in the mostly dreadful Fifty Shades movies. The movie also features great performances and appearances by Vanessa Bayer, Damon Wayans, Jr, and Wendy McLendon-Covey. I must also praise Kristen Wiig once again, but this time for her wicked fun and silly turn as the cold and calculating villain Sharon Gordon Fisherman.
This film was originally slated to be released in theaters last summer, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it got put on hold. It will be available for viewing via streaming and video-on-demand services on February 12. It is a movie that exceded my expectations and is sure to provide wonderfully comedic entertainment to anyone who gives it a chance.