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Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021) | Review

Source: Conway Daily Sun
Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021), by all accounts, is a fantasy movie disguising itself as an 80s comedy. Existing in the realm of Hot Rod (2007) and Wet Hot American Summer (2001), this feels like a parody with a purpose. The term parody seems to have been tainted by the slew of late 2000s spoofs (e.g. Date Movie (2006), Epic Movie (2007), Disaster Movie (2008) etc.) that just slammed a bunch of references together and called it a movie. This film however takes on its tropes loosely, gender bends them and puts together a story that is absurdly funny and deeply grounded in humanity and kindness, something that was wholly absent from those other movies mentioned.

We follow best friends Barb and Star as they attempt to revitalise their drab lives and go on holiday together to Vista Del Mar, a place with a resort so fancy they welcome you with a personalised song about what a wonderful time you'll have there. Despite their good time being threatened by an incredibly pale villain who wants to release mosquitoes into their resort, they always seem to land on their feet, remaining almost ridiculously upbeat throughout. Their love and kindness towards each other is infectious as they roped in Edgar, a lackey for the main villain who is attempting to enact her evil plot for her whilst also wrestle with his feelings of unrequited love.

Source: Slant Magazine
Edgar, played by Jamie Dornan, is a character of pure female fantasy fulfillment. He is troubled enough to be brooding and kind enough to be endearing, and his main character flaw is that he loves too much. What feels absurd is that his character in this film is that it is the complete opposite of what he played in the 50 Shades of Grey franchise and yet he is significantly more attractive here, despite the 50 Shades books and films being written by a woman as well. Where both play out exaggerated fantasies, what is ultimately attractive about Edgar in Barb & Star is his emotion. I was honestly unaware that Jamie Dornan could even act until watching this film, because he was clearly given nothing to work with elsewhere.

What was a joy about this film was its musicality. Whilst it's not considered a musical in the traditional sense, there are a few musical numbers performed seemingly out of nowhere and a needledrop early in the film that is just a joy to watch. I feel like after a terrible year what was needed was a film that was just pure joy, that was unabashedly silly and indulged our childish desires for the world to brighter, kinder and more fun. That's what this film delivered.


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