PG-13 for sex jokes mostly. It's not like you see anything, but Star does conduct a secret romance that is almost exclusively sexual. There's also a drug sequence that is played up for comedy. It's weird, because in my head, this was an R-Rated movie. But then I thought about it and realized that there isn't that much R-rated content in here. The eponymous characters have a very tame way of speaking, stressing how vanilla their lives are. I think that the movie became PG-13 by default. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Josh Greenbaum
Gloria Sanchez Productions, huh? Title credits come up, I instantly pause the movie. I mean, I know Gary Ganchez Productions as Will Ferrell's production company with Adam McKay. But Gloria Sanchez? This instantly brought me down a hole of reading about the company, which is a subsidiary of Gary Sanchez that focus on women in comedy. Listen, I'm just giving you the short version of the Wikipedia article I read. I saved you a few minutes. Barb & Star was one of those trailers that came out at a weird time. It was eerily cryptic. We got that this was going to be a movie about these over-the-top middle aged suburbanites and it was going to be a Saturday Night Live skit all the way throughout, but we had no idea how insane the movie would get. The answer is: pretty insane.
Taking a cue from stuff like Anchorman and Zoolander, Barb & Star exists in a bizarre world where the rules of reality are completely missing. Sure, the world can look at the personality quirks of these two characters as odd or surreal. But they'd just be hypocrites because almost every character in this movie has an odd personality trait. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo acturally crafted something unique. If anything, Barb and Star, while exaggerations of middle aged womanhood, probably are so hilarious because they are the most normal people in a really bizarre scenario. I'm trying to think of a character in the movie who is more normal. With my arm twisted, I have to pick the couple who is going couch shopping. These are tiny characters that are there for both the joke of Barb and Star being terrible salespeople and for the exposition that they provide for Barb and Star's relationship. But that's really about it. Even minor characters in the story have some kind of wacky quirk. There's just a guy in a banana hammock making weird faces. That's his entire schtick. He's hilarious, but I get that the entire joke behind this moment is that he's weird looking and everywhere.
Barb & Star isn't a story with a message. If it had one, it had to be a celebration of mediocrity. It's wildly depressing, but this might be the optimistic form of Death of a Salesman. Barb and Star revel in the notion that they don't really move mountains. Their stories of wild abandon are hilariously tame. If anything, life tries to impose on them. When characters set off on a quest for adventure which is told over the course of a film, that story is meant to be the most important thing that they can possibly do (until a sequel shows up, neutering the point of the original film). The eponymous characters travel to a mid-range resort town in Florida and that's supposed to be them stepping out of their comfort zone. To them, the adventure is just trying something new and to buy a bunch of junk with shells on them. But like all of their stories, life has to intervene and force them into an epic adventure.
When the movie started off with Yoyo, the paperboy, blowing up a house and helping murder a scientist with killer mosquitos, I had no idea where this movie was going. I didn't know how one could possibly connect a plan to commit mild genocide with two 40-something suburbanites. That's the point. That's what the movie was going for. You did it, movie! Good job. But that's the takeaway from Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Based on the idea that these two names rhymed with "Vista Del Mar", the movie had to ramp up the tension with the largest threat. It's almost like Barb and Star spit in the face of fate by stepping out of their comfort zone and the movie decided to punish / reward them by offering them a threat that was unimaginable.
And despite the fact that the movie decides to Deus Ex Machina pretty darn hard, (I mean, it's next level) the core themes of friendship above all still play out. I keep on apologizing for some reason, but we get that the ending is stupid. Sharon Gordon Fisherman (yup) should go to all the prisons for trying to murder everyone in this town. But instead, Barb and Star offer friendship and EVERYONE jumps on board. That's the absurdity of this movie. It's not bad enough that there is a gross injustice happening here. It's the idea that everyone's on board with Sharon being their friend at the end of the whole thing. Seriously. The more I think about it, the more troubled I am by this ending.
But that's also why I'm going to cut this one short. Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar doesn't need a long blog. The more I talk about it, the more I say obvious things. It's an okay movie that made me laugh a lot. It's really a dumb movie, but that's okay because it's charming as heck. It's got two great leads and a lot of it lands. But its sole purpose is to make you laugh, which it does. So message received, I guess?
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.