2021 wasn’t exactly a great year for comedy. Studios have abandoned the genre on the big screen for the most part unless there’s blockbuster spectacle attached, and some of the best comedies of the year went direct-to-streaming, and not just because of the pandemic. One of the first out of the gate was “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar,” part-spoof, part absurdist romantic comedy, and it was easily the most pleasant surprise of the year.
“Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” is a delightful mix of the spy parody of “Austin Powers,” the silliness of “Zoolander,” and the friendship and camaraderie of movies like “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” and “Dumb & Dumber.” Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo make for the perfect duo, decked out in bright blouses and culottes, and they’re vying for the attention of the handsome Edgar Pagét (Jamie Dornan), who is in the midst of helping his dastardly boss plan a massive revenge plot on the resort destination of Vista Del Mar. Jamie Dornan is the most surprising part of this all, and he gives a breakthrough comedic performance that completely changed my perspective on the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise star. Studios don’t often make comedies like this anymore, complete with musical sequences and talking crabs, and that’s a damn shame.
On a personal note, this movie came around when I needed it the most. Two weeks after my dad passed away, this movie was pushed to VOD in mid-February because the COVID-19 vaccine hadn’t yet been distributed, and movie theaters had yet to make a proper comeback. In the middle of my family’s mourning and overwhelming responsibilities, this comedy came along to give us a little relief, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.