Review: Manic comic energy fuels 'Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar'

'Bridesmaids' screenwriters Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo write and star in weirdo ode to friendship

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

When everyone goes to bed, that's when "SNL" gets weird. The last sketch of the night, known to fans as the "12:50 sketch" for the time it usually airs, is when writers throw out their oddball ideas that don't quite fit in anywhere else. It's a roll of the dice, and these bits may not make traditional, linear sense. But because the pressure is off, the creatively flows freely, and the 12:50 sketches often make for the most memorable laughs.

"Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar" has the random, hands-off, let 'er rip energy of a 12:50 "SNL" sketch. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo reteam (their "Bridesmaids" screenplay was nominated for an Oscar) to write and star in this deliciously weird ode to friendship, culottes and sunny Florida vacations. You can tell Wiig and Mumolo cracked themselves up while writing it, and that laughter handily crosses over to the screen. 

Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo in "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar."

How's this for an opening: we enter inside the secret lair of Sharon Gordon Fisherman (Wiig), a pale-skinned villainess who lives underneath a tree in the countryside, who is in the process of hatching a plan with her henchman Edgar Pagét (Jamie Dornan) to launch a targeted attack of killer mosquitos. Her target, we soon learn, is the beach town of Vista Del Mar, Florida. 

Over in Soft Rock, Nebraska, we meet Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig again), a pair of middle-aged best friends and Jennifer Convertibles employees who decide to take a vacation to Vista Del Mar, lured by the promise of cold drinks, Tommy Bahama-wearing men and a 24-hour CVS. Their perfect vacation hits a snag when they both fall for Edgar and they soon find themselves embroiled in a spy plot that tests their friendship and the durability of their fashionable Midwestern wardrobes.   

"Barb and Star's" free-flowing comic energy is reminiscent of the first "Austin Powers" film and the way Mike Myers was able to get away with anything that he thought was funny. Over the course of 106 minutes, "Barb and Star" begins to feel stretched. But the 12:50 sketch is never the most polished work, and that's all part of its shabby charm.


'Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar'


Rated PG-13: for crude sexual content, drug use and some strong language

Running time: 106 minutes