Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 2/12/21

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Kenan (CREDIT: NBC/YouTube Screenshot)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (On Demand) – A new comedy classic.
Judas and the Black Messiah (Theaters and HBO Max)
Minari (February 12 in Theaters, February 26 On Demand)

TV
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Season 8 Premiere (February 14 on HBO)
Momma Named Me Sheriff Season 2 Premiere (February 14 on Adult Swim)
Young Rock Series Premiere (February 16 on NBC)
Kenan Series Premiere (February 16 on NBC) – Kenan Thompson is still on SNL, but he’s also got his own sitcom now.

Music
-The Pretty Reckless, Death by Rock and Roll

The Writers of ‘Bridesmaids’ Ramp Up the Delightful Absurdity in ‘Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar’

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Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (CREDIT: Lionsgate/YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr., Michael Hitchock, Reyn Doi, Kwame Patterson, Vanessa Bayer, Fortune Feimster, Rose Abdoo, Phyllis Smith, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Richard Cheese

Director: Josh Greenbaum

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Very Playful (and Kind of Explicit) Sexual Dialogue

Release Date: February 12, 2021 (On Demand)

A young boy in a canary yellow hat rides his bike down a picturesque suburban street while delivering newspapers and singing along to “Guilty,” the 1980 Barbra Streisand/Barry Gibb smooth jazz duet. Encountering a robot owl, he heads purposefully underground into a world of intrigue. A super-secret, super-important mission appears to be afoot. And that’s when we meet Barb and Star (Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, respectively), two fortysomething best friends who appear to have absolutely nothing to do with everything we’ve seen up to this point. Instead, they spend their days gabbing away about whatever absurd notions pop into their heads while sitting on one of the showroom couches at the furniture store where they work. But alas, horror of horrors: the store is closing forever, and Barb and Star have no idea what to do with all their newfound free time! They could hang out at their rigidly regimented friend group gabfest (run by a fantastically tightly wound Vanessa Bayer), but then an opportunity comes knocking in the form of a vacation to the resort town of Vista Del Mar. They’ve never been the type to venture outside their hometowns, but heckfire, what better time than now to throw caution to the wind and spread their wings!

Often when reviewing movies, I like to ask myself, “Does this film make me want to do the thing it says in its title?” So with that in mind, does Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar make me want to go to Vista Del Mar? And the answer is … heck yeah! It’s a beachside town full of bright colors, romance, magic, and Mark Jonathan Davis as his lounge act persona Richard Cheese singing naughty songs in a hotel lobby, after all. And if I could spend my stay there right alongside Barb and Star and their versatile culottes, oh wow, would I be in hog heaven. The world has made no effort to stop them from being who they really are, and their conversations reflect that, as Wiig and Mumolo bring an astounding improvisatory yes-and energy to every single one of their interactions.

There’s also so many more elements in this movie that I haven’t mentioned yet, mostly because I don’t want to mention them, as this is the most satisfyingly unpredictable comedy I have seen in quite some time. Wiig and Mumolo co-wrote the screenplay, and it feels like a passion project of two best friends daring each other to indulge in their most outré excesses. Playing straight(-ish) man to their whirligig of whimsy is Jamie Dornan, who seems to have found his perfect niche as a lovelorn hopeless romantic agent of espionage. Also of note: Wiig pulls double duty as a supervillian best left unremarked upon, Damon Wayans Jr. shows up for a running gag of very silly inadvertent secret-revealing, and Barb and Star’s conversations about a hypothetical woman named “Trish” eventually pay off handsomely. In conclusion, this is one of those funny flicks that delights me immediately and endlessly, but I’m not quite sure how to fully put into words why it makes me feel that way (the last few paragraphs notwithstanding). But I hope to continually revisit it and think about it much more in the coming years and then explain it as best I can when the proper time comes along.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is Recommended If You Like: Zoolander, Hot Rod, AM Radio hits of the 70s

Grade: 4 out of 5 Seafood Jams