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“Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar” is a Real Tit-Flapper | The Triangle

“Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar” is a Real Tit-Flapper

Every once in a while, there comes a movie so funny, so inspiredly dumb, so thoroughly entertaining that it short circuits any attempts at logical criticism and you wonder how it could’ve possibly failed. In 2016, that movie was the Lonely Island’s music industry satire “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” a movie that featured a song entitled “Finest Girl (The Bin Laden Song)” and somehow wasn’t the number one film in America for six straight weeks. This year, the lucky film is “Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar,” Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s return to screenwriting after “Bridesmaids.” A movie like this isn’t so much a comedy as it is a vibe: you either get what it’s doing and fall madly, deeply in love, or you don’t and come away befuddled at what you just saw. The highest compliment one can give is that if this were a normal box office release it would gain cult status almost immediately.

Mumolo and Wiig play the titular characters, a culotte-obsessed pair of middle-aged women hailing from Soft Rock, Nebraska (genius), both with men who’ve left their lives. Our introduction is them chatting up a storm, bouncing off each other and going on wild tangents. They instantly feel like lived-in, real people rather than the collection of tics and wacky mannerisms it would be so tempting to devolve into.

After their job closes down, and their Talking Club (featuring Vanessa Bayer and Fortune Feimster, along with a joke that made me die laughing for no reason I can logically explain) kicks them out for lying about said jobs, the two decide to throw caution to the wind and travel to that middle-aged paradise: Vista Del Mar, Florida.

In this pastel-colored resort, the two find themselves swooning over Edgar (Jamie Dornan), who’s in town to place a device that will release killer mosquitos at the behest of his evil supervillain girlfriend, also played by Kristen Wiig. Yes, it’s that old saw again. Somehow, through sheer confidence alone (along with director Josh Greenbaum) the movie pulls it off. It’s the kind of thing that could be excessive but fits so seamlessly into this weird world that you just go along with it.

“Barb and Star” is full of these sort of weird gags and strange digressions. Did anyone think we needed to see Jamie Dornan sing a conflicted song to seagulls? I sure didn’t! What about Kristen Wiig serving Madonna in her best Cate Blanchette realness? Can’t imagine how I ever lived without it. Or how about an extended treatise on how perfect the name “Trish” is that swells into an elaborate backstory and development over a person who most certainly does not exist? Sure, bring it on! Time after time, Wiig and Mumolo’s script tosses out absurd gags and commits to it fully. There’s no fear of any of it faltering, because a new gag will be there to replace it just before you’ve finished processing the last one. More than anything it’s a sense of generosity, a confidence in the execution and sheer out-there ideas like a club remix of “My Heart Will Go On”. Oh yeah, there are musical numbers in here too; and they’re all so much better than they needed to be.

Perhaps what’s most surprising is how heartfelt it all is. Mumolo and Wiig’s performances feel grounded and lived in, the latter especially taking a much subtler tack than her work on “Saturday Night Live” tended to be. The two have a sparkling rapport, building off each other as if in a constant state of “yes, and”-ing, their friendship shining strong the whole movie. It knows exactly what to find funny and what to take seriously, namely Barb’s more hesitant nature and Star’s lack of self-esteem ever since her husband ran off. It’s wonderful to see a middle-aged romance treated not as a joke but as something worthy in and of itself, and it helps that Dornan is just as game as his co-stars in all aspects, down to embracing the silliness and pining to be an “official couple.”

“Barb and Star” is, as the ladies themselves would describe it, a real tit-flapper of a movie. At times it feels like a movie solely made for Wiig and Mumolo to toss off ideas at each other and do what amuses them both. Thank God for that. More than anything it’s such a pleasure to see such a weird, singularly unique comedy with as much attention paid to the visual style (that set design! The editing! All those colors!) as to the many cameos. While it’s tempting to just list out the many, many gags I loved, my best advice is to go in blind and let it wash over you like a much-needed vacation.