Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 2021. Gloria Sanchez Productions, Lionsgate, Redrum, Stellie. Screenplay by Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig. Cinematography by Toby Oliver. Produced by Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell, Margot Hand, Adam McKay, Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig. Music by Christopher Lennertz, Dara Taylor. Production Design by Steve Saklad. Costume Design by Trayce Gigi Field. Film Editing by Steve Welch.
The titular characters that Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who previously received an Oscar nomination for their Bridesmaids screenplay, play in this film were not originated as a skit on Saturday Night Live, but they might as well have been. Think back to all the SNL film projects and prepare accordingly, knowing that if you like the main characters and what they do, it won’t matter to you what’s going on around them and whether or not it passes muster as great filmmaking. This delightful little ditty does pass muster as good, if not great, entertainment, wisely relying not only on the stars’ performance skills but on their well-worn and naturally spontaneous chemistry. They play chattery, culturally dim Nebraska divorcees whose dream job working together at a furniture store (where they refuse to sell the couches they love sitting on) becomes a nightmare when it turns out that the store’s national chain has gone under and nobody told their manager (Ian Gomez) until now. Disturbed by the lack of excitement in their lives with this void now placed in it, and uninspired by the company of the women in their talking group (led by Vanessa Bayer), they bite the bullet and decide to try something new after running into an old friend (Bridesmaids co-star Wendi McLendon-Covey) who tells them about the Florida resort town she had the week of her life vacationing in. Getting on a plane (and driving their fellow passengers crazy with their inane conversation about the magic of the name “Trish”), Barb and Star head to Vista Del Mar, a fictional, brightly colourful, campy kitsch town where the concierge of their hotel (Michael Hitchcock) leads his employees in a big-brash musical number to welcome their arrival. Determined to enjoy every possible activity on the menu together, their buddy system is threatened when they meet scrumptious Jamie Dornan and both start arranging private time with him, but little do they know that he has some very dangerous secrets. As if the plot couldn’t get any sillier, a powerful and pale supervillain (also played by Wiig) is on her way to Vista Del Mar’s annual Seafood Festival to wreak revenge on the entire population for trauma imposed upon her in her youth, and she is using her lover Dornan to help her annihilate everyone there. The fun of the two main stars goofing around this gorgeously photographed location is actually enough to satisfy, the mechanics of the villain subplot feel like they’re forced upon us by a producer who took too many screenplay seminars with Robert McKee or watching Austin Powers a few too many times, but thankfully it’s a story element that is only referenced when necessary. It does provide us with a tidy ending and gives Dornan, who performs a hilarious, unself-conscious musical number, something more to do than just look delicious in Patagonia shorts. If you already know you won’t like it, don’t watch it, but if the idea of being saved from death by culottes makes you curious, by all means indulge yourself without regret.