The best comedy films always have a strong story that holds up without the jokes. Take When Harry Met Sally, Four Weddings & a Funeral and Booksmart for example, all of which have wonderful relationships at their core and the wise cracks and set pieces hang off this. Then there’s Ghostbusters, The Princess Bride and Hot Fuzz, to list some more off the top of my head, that have engaging adventures and the one liners lay on top of this.
The possible exception to this might be the Airplane and Naked Gun movies that have flimsy plots but such an incredible gag quota that it only needs half of them to hit to generate a good level of laughter.
Imagine in contrast to this a film that has a tired and predictable plot and occasional witticisms that just don’t raise a smile. That’s going to be a drag right? Well, as if you couldn’t see where I was going with this from the very start, you don’t have to imagine this – you just need to watch Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar.
Don’t watch it though, it’s tedious.
To be fair, it is possible that you might find it amusing. I mean someone obviously thought they were making a comedy here so it has to be in tune with someone’s sense of humour. I did actually laugh at the sheer absurdity of it at one point, briefly, for a microsecond, about halfway through. I thought, as Jamie Dornan was climbing up a palm tree like a cat while earnestly singing about climbing up a palm tree like a cat, that perhaps I had got on the right wave length but it didn’t last. At least Jamie Dornan is coming out from under the spectre of Christian Grey but there are less extreme ways of getting past a dubious signature role. I fear he may never work again after this.
Barb & Star (I can’t even generate the interest to give it its full title) stars and is written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo who authored Bridesmaids together but this is surprising as this film doesn’t appear to have been written at all. Even some of the songs feel like they are improvised on the spot (it’s kind of a musical but only in the way that it’s kind of a comedy) and those involved are certainly amusing themselves more than they are amusing me.
The plot has… oh, do you know what? I really don’t have the energy. Barb & Star, blah, blah, blah. There are misunderstandings, there are secret trysts, there’s a plot by an evil crime lord who wants to kill thousands of innocent people and there is a crab that sounds like Morgan Freeman but despite the title, none of this goes anywhere.