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film review

Kristen Wiig as Star and Annie Mumolo as Barb in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.Cate Cameron/Lionsgate

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  • Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
  • Directed by Josh Greenbaum
  • Written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo
  • Starring Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo and Jamie Dornan
  • Classification PG; 107 minutes

CRITIC’S PICK

You have to admire Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. After the runaway success of their 2011 comedy Bridesmaids, which the two wrote and in which Wiig stars, the collaborators could have taken on any number of easy payday Judd Apatow-y productions. Including a Bridesmaids sequel, which once seemed like such an inevitability that Melissa McCarthy likely started drawing up plans for a Scrooge McDuck-esque vault right after opening weekend.

Jamie Dornan as Edgar in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.Cate Cameron/Lionsgate

Instead, Wiig and Mumolo have defied expectations: the former taking on a string of oddball roles in movies both small (Hateship Loveship, Mother!) and large (Wonder Woman 1984), and the latter co-writing, of all things, the 2017 military-combat-dog tear-jerker Megan Leavey and earning a “story by” credit on David O. Russell’s rags-to-Miracle Mop melodrama Joy. All right, sure! Listen, Hollywood is a supremely weird and difficult business, and I admire Wiig and Mumolo’s commitment to making supremely weird and difficult choices. Which brings me to the pair’s latest project, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.

Following the misadventures of two middle-aged Midwest American women (Wiig and Mumolo) as they take a trip down south to relax and unwind, Barb and Star is one of the most admirably strange comedies to come around in some time. To truly enjoy its idiosyncraticity, you should appreciate the following: jokes about Florida, jokes about women named Trish, jokes about the pronunciation of the name “Don Cheadle,” jokes about Red Lobster, jokes about macaroni salad, jokes about extremely pale women, and jokes about crabs magically gifted with the voice of Morgan Freeman (or, as the crab itself pronounces it, “Morgan Freedman”).

Think of one of Wiig’s closer-to-1 a.m. Saturday Night Live sketches coloured with the purposefully unpalatable aesthetic sensibilities of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and you’ll start to form the right picture. If none of the above appeals or even makes sense in the slightest, then feel free to run far, far away.

But for those who devour this kind of outre deadpan comedy – in which, say, the movie can turn into a musical for a stretch, or turn Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan into a sex-starved fool who is hot for divorced ladies in culottes – then Vista Del Mar is an unmissable destination. I’ll count myself as an eager and satisfied tourist, even though I can see a good portion of Bridesmaids fans immediately slapping a one-star slam on Trip Advisor.

Cate Cameron/Lionsgate

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is available on-demand, including Apple TV/iTunes and the Cineplex Store, starting Feb. 12

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation.