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Josh Greenbaum
Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan
Writing Credits:
Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig

Lifelong friends Barb and Star embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time - ever.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 4/6/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director Josh Greenbaum and Writers/Actors Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
• “Making Life a Little Brighter” Featurette
• “Casting in Paradise” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Bloopers
• “Fashion Show”


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Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 24, 2021)

Based on the themes and the involvement of Kristen Wiig, one might assume that 2021’s Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar offers a cinematic adaptation of Saturday Night Live characters. Instead, the film reunites Wiig with Bridesmaids co-star Annie Mumolo for a wholly original project.

Lifelong friends Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig) grew up together in small-town Nebraska – and never left the state for any reason. Middle-aged and single, they decide to finally spice up their lives with an exciting trip to Vista Del Mar, Florida.

Free from the Midwest at last, Barb and Star enjoy the usual tropical vacation shenanigans. However, they also find themselves with various forms of intrigue, including a plot hatched by an evil mastermind to murder the entire town.

As I mentioned at the start, Vista feels like an SNL sketch transferred to the big screen. Quirky gal pals Barb and Star come across like just the kinds of characters around whom five-minute sketches would revolve, as I can imagine a cable access “Barb and Star” show in which the two chat in their absurd way.

If Wiig and Mumolo had limited these roles to that format, I would’ve enjoyed it. The movie’s best scenes come with the lead actors delve into their own oddball brains and go on long, bizarre conversations.

For instance, when Barb and Star fly to Florida, they come up with an imaginary biography for a woman named “Trish”. This scene goes on forever, but in a hilarious way, as Mumolo and Wiig riff with each other in a delightful manner.

If Vista stayed with a modest focus that concentrated on these amusing scenes between the leads, it’d entertain. Unfortunately, those involved instead decided it needs a Big Movie Plot and burdened it with a ridiculous narrative.

The “evil genius” elements feel like little more than a ripoff of Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil, and they seem utterly gratuitous. Even if they didn’t seem “borrowed” from Mike Myers’ baby, these components fail to gain traction and they never develop into anything fun or engaging.

Really, Vista wanders all over the place as a movie. It often feels like little more than a series of random stabs at comedy without coherence.

I get the impression Mumolo and Wiig wrote the script over a long weekend, said “good enough” and left it at that. The whole thing comes across like a rough draft that badly needed much more polish.

Vista gives off the vibe of an 85-minute movie stretched to 107 minutes. Actually, even if it ran 20 minutes shorter, Vista would still wear out its welcome before we reach the end credits, but at least a sub-90-minute version would feel tighter and less rambling.

And ramble the movie does. That 107 minutes often seems twice as long, so the film turns into an endurance test.

Vista does boast a good supporting cast, and Wiig infuses Star with her usual comic charm. Mumolo proves less effective as Barb, mainly because I think she simply lacks the charisma needed for a leading role.

Mumolo gives off a Rachel Dratch vibe. Like Dratch, Mumolo has good comedic chops, but also like Dratch, she doesn’t appear to have that certain something necessary to carry a movie as a main character.

Mumolo doesn’t actively harm the film, partly because it suffers from so many other self-inflicted wounds. Nonetheless, she becomes a relative weakness in a movie that already comes with too many flaws.

All of this seems like a shame, as Vista comes with too much potential to end up as such a mess. But unfortunately, the movie only occasionally strikes a chord, as it lacks the focus and creativity it needs.

Footnote: extra material shows up during and after the end credits.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie boasted a solid transfer.

Sharpness appeared strong. Only a smattering of wide shots looked a little soft, so the majority of the film became accurate and tight.

Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and edge haloes were absent. Print flaws remained absent, as we found no specks, marks or other issues.

Vista utilized a fairly stylized palette, with a clear teal/orange orientation. Some of the setting’s tropical hues also came through, though, and the tones felt well-rendered.

Blacks seemed dark and dense, while shadows showed nice clarity. This became a pleasing image.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Vista, it offered an experience typical of comedies, as the soundfield displayed an emphasis on the forward channels. Music showed nice stereo imaging and moved the songs and score to the back speakers in a minor manner.

Most of the effects tended toward environmental material, though a few sequences added some pep, especially when the “evil genius” side of things emerged. Nonetheless, the majority of the mix stayed dialogue-intensive and without real theatrics.

Audio quality came across as good. Speech seemed natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility.

Music was reasonably full, with clear tones overall. Effects were accurate and concise, without distortion or other concerns, and the mix offered strong bass response. Nothing here excelled, but the audio was more adequate for a comedy like this.

A few extras fill out the disc, and we open with an audio commentary from director Josh Greenbaum and writers/actors Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, costumes and hair, stunts, and related elements.

At times, we find some decent nuggets about the movie. However, it feels like we mainly hear about the leads’ wigs and how hot it was during the shoot. Add a lot of happy talk and this becomes a mediocre commentary.

Two featurettes follow, and Making Life a Little Brighter runs nine minutes, 58 seconds. It brings info from Greenbaum, Wiiig, Mumolo, executive producer Margot Hand, production designer Steve Saklad, cinematographer Toby Oliver, and costume designer Trayce Gigi Field.

“Life” looks at the project’s origins and development, story and characters, sets and production design, costumes, and other production topics. This becomes a fairly tight overview.

Casting in Paradise goes for 10 minutes, 53 seconds and offers notes from Wiig, Mumolo, Greenbaum, Hand, and actors Jamie Dornan and Reyn Doi.

As expected, “Paradise” discusses cast and performances. A few useful tidbits emerge, but most of the show offers happy talk.

Next comes a six-minute, 16-second collection of bloopers. It shows a few alternate lines, but most of it sticks with the usual goofs and giggles – lots and lots of giggles, in fact, as that element dominates.

Nine Deleted Scenes span a total of 12 minutes, 41 seconds. A few of these add a little story development, but most just add comedic beats.

Some of these work pretty well. The cut sequences merit a look.

Finally, Fashion Show lasts one minute, 29 seconds and shows various actors in Barb and Star influenced outfits. It’s a creative form of ad for the movie.

Even with good talent and the potential for laughs, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar becomes a spotty affair. While it throws out the occasional moment of mirth, it seems scattered and erratic too much of the time. The Blu-ray brings good picture and audio as well as a nice array of bonus materials. I wanted to enjoy Vista but the end result disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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