Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar Movie Poster Image
Goofy female friendship comedy has sex, drugs, drinking.
  • PG-13
  • 2021
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid the silliness are clear themes of friendship, forgiveness, honesty, taking risks/breaking out of a rut. Revenge isn't the way to solve a problem. True friends support each other and are excited for each other's happiness.

Positive Role Models

Barb and Star are true friends who are there for each other -- all the time. They make some mistakes and iffy choices, but  they learn they need to have experiences without each other to grow as individuals. Edgar craves a loving relationship between equal partners. While main cast is all White, there's diversity in race, gender, and sexual identity among supporting characters. The villain has a fictional skin condition (not albinism) that makes her literally white; cruel childhood treatment based on her disability is what drives her to revenge -- though she ultimately takes another path. Barb and Star's portrayal of Midwestern women is presented affectionately but is still stereotypical.

Violence

A humorously over-the-top villain hatches murderous plans. Implied comical insect/animal attacks (including alligators) with characters in peril. Women get punched. It's briefly believed that key characters have drowned. A character threatens others with a gun and ties them up. Yelling/arguing. Bullying among Barb and Star's hometown friends.

Sex

Several sexual scenarios implied, including a drug-fueled threesome, but visual imagery is limited to kissing/embracing, mussed clothing/hair, and characters lying in a pile under a sheet. Sexual references/language ("dong," "labia," "boobies," etc.).

Language

Occasional strong language includes "asses," "a--hole," "dammit," "imbecile," "s--t," "oh my God." Comedy around not saying "f--k," including starting to say it but getting cut off and mouthing the words. Body part/sexual language: "dong," "labia," etc. A lounge singer croons a song all about "boobies."

Consumerism

Brands are used as punchlines, including CVS, Jennifer Convertibles, Mr. Peanut, Red Lobster, Tommy Bahama, and Wheat Thins.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug use is portrayed as leading to positive consequences. Characters drink in social situations and while on vacation. Glimpse of character smoking pot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is a goofy, absurd comedy that feels a bit like Zoolander or Austin Powers crossed with A Very Brady Sequel. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo (the writing duo behind Bridesmaids) star as the culotte-wearing best friends from the Midwest. Wiig also plays the movie's intentionally ridiculous villain, who's driven by revenge for cruel treatment she received as a kid. All of the movie's iffy content is over the top, including fatal insect and animal attacks, unknowingly taking drugs (which leads to a threesome), and the suggestion of lots of enthusiastic sex (little is shown beyond kissing). Jokes are somehow both crude and innocent, drinks flow at the vacation resort, and there's some swearing ("a--hole," "s--t"). One character threatens others with a gun and ties them up, and there's brief peril. While the stars' portrayal of the main characters is affectionate, it may also strike some as a little mean: After all, it's mocking women based on their haircuts, jewelry choices, and wardrobe. And the villain has a fictional skin condition that's reminiscent of albinism, a real disorder that cinema almost exclusively associates with nefarious characters. Ultimately, though, the movie celebrates Barb and Star for their optimistic, kind, forgiving, and easygoing natures. And their friendship is enviable: They're more than friends, they're soulmates.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 17 years old Written byMovieLover2324 August 4, 2021

Great

Really good movie. Super funny but kind of awkward if your watching with parents depending on your relationship. References to drugs and a lot to sex. Overall j... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byCommonsense002 June 1, 2021

really good but definitely an acquired taste for some

I was very intrigued since this movie is by the same people behind Bridesmaids. This movie is definitely a lot more silly but I still thought it was so hilariou... Continue reading

What's the story?

In BARB AND STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR, Midwestern middle-aged best friends Barb (Annie Mumolo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) are inspired to shake up their lives after a friend returns from a fabulous vacation. The inseparable pals/roommates travel to a Florida beach town in hopes of finding adventure, unaware that the city's annual seafood festival has been targeted by a domestic terrorist (also Wiig). Jamie Dornan and Damon Wayans Jr. co-star. 

Is it any good?

This movie is a fun watch-together pick for adult girlfriends; it's a safe bet that most men and teens aren't likely to appreciate it for all of its girly, goofy glory. Wiig and Mumolo affectionately parody "average American women," simultaneously making their characters the butt of the joke and lifting them up to be the hero that they truly are. While they don't always make the right choices, the pair clearly demonstrate traits that parents and caregivers want to instill in kids: kindness, forgiveness, positivity, and an appreciation for the little things in life. Both Barb and Star have hit rough patches -- unexpected divorce and unexpected unemployment -- but they bolster each other with unconditional encouragement and support. While the movie's premise is utterly ludicrous, the straight-faced jokes zip, dart, and zing like a high-scoring round of pinball. 

Star is only a few degrees away from Wiig's infamous "Target lady" character from Saturday Night Live. But Wiig also plays villain Sharon Gordon Fisherman, a juicy, delicious, over-the-top femme fatale who plots to murder an entire town. She has a fictional skin pigmentation condition, which perpetuates the problematic choice to give villains (especially in comedies) disabilities. In this case, her condition makes her appear more sinister -- but also, it's clear, supposedly more laughable. Yes, it's a made-up disease, but it's quite reminiscent of albinism, an actual disorder that cinema almost exclusively associates with nefarious characters. At the same time, Sharon is full of self-confidence, spurning her handsome henchman Edgar's (Jamie Dornan) romantic overtures: It takes more than good looks to warm her cold heart. The ultimate redemption, though, is that Barb and Star's amazing friendship and positive attitude give the rest of us the warm fuzzies. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how villains, especially in comedies, are too often characterized as having disabilities. Does it change the impact of that representation if the disability is fictional -- or if the villain is a femme fatale-type (like Sharon)?

  • How are drug and alcohol use depicted in Barb and Star? Is substance use glamorized or realistic? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How do Barb and Star's communication skills help their friendship thrive? What happens when they start lying to each other? Why is communication an important life skill?

  • Compare the tone of Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar to that of other friendship comedies, like Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, Clueless, and Wiig and Mumolo's previous film, Bridesmaids. How is this one similar and different?

  • Wiig and Mumolo got their start in the L.A. improvisational comedy group The Groundlings. How is their character-driven comedic style similar to that of other Groundlings alumni, such as Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, and Jennifer Coolidge?

Movie details

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