DIRECTOR: JOSH GREENBAUM | SCREENPLAY: ANNIE MUMOLO & KRISTEN WIIG | STARRING: ANNIE MUMOLO, KRISTEN WIIG, JAMIE DORNAN, REYN DOI & ANDY GARCIA | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
A film about two middle-aged best friends setting off for an adventure-filled holiday feels a little like a slap in the face when most people can’t go anywhere right now. But such things are quickly forgotten in this farcical comedy romp that combines surreal humour with brazen stupidity. And for the most part it is glorious fun. Much like your typical sun-soaked resort, Barb and Star is tacky, over the top thrill ride complete with cheap jokes and bewildering characters. But you wouldn’t expect anything less.
Some of the jokes land far better than others, helped along by Wiig and Mumolo’s irresistible chemistry and spark. Ten years since they co-wrote Bridesmaids, the pair prove that they can still command laughs and attention, even if they are obviously trying much harder with a film that at times delves towards clumsiness. Barb and Star somehow feel fake and real at the same time, their caricatured but heartfelt personas given plenty of time to shine. If anything the film would be much stronger with the confidence to focus squarely on their friendship, rather than shoehorn them into some ridiculous villainous plot that too often feels unwelcome.
Sophisticated it is not, lacking the emotional core of comparable comedies like Booksmart or Spy. But Barb and Star keeps you smiling along almost from the word go. Against your better judgement, this journey of escapism and self-discovery indulges you with every corny aside and ridiculous set piece you could hope for. This is far from Wiig and Mumolo’s finest hour, but even so it is as colourful a demonstration of their talent that you could ask for.