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S1: Hi, this is another late spoiler special podcast, I’m Dana Stevens, Slate’s movie critic, and this time around we’re going to be talking about Barb and Star. Go to Vista del Mar, a movie that was released a while back. And it had sort of a long production history, which maybe we’ll get into and was supposed to come out in the summer of 2012. He was then put off until 2021 and has now come out on video only, which has turned out to be a real boon for this movie. And I think people are really responding to it, especially for, you know, the oddball and somewhat smallscale kind of movie that it is. Joining me to talk about. Barbara Starr is Rachel Syme, a staff writer for The New Yorker. Hey, Rachel. Hey. So thanks for joining me for this one. I really was excited to talk about this one with you because you wrote something about it, a little review and appreciation of it for The New Yorker that I really loved and that I felt really tapped into some of the things that are special about this movie. I’m going to read a tiny bit of it back to you. Maybe that can inspire our conversation. So this comes early in what you’re writing about it when you talk about the transition from what I would think of as the set up the first 20 minutes or so where we beat Barb, Barbara Starr in their hometown of Suffragette, Nebraska, and how it then it then transitions to the town of the title Vista del Mar in Florida. And so you write, there are solid jokes from the get go, but it’s not clear right away what the movie is up to are Wiggan Mumolo, longtime denizens of Los Angeles, where they first met as part of the L.A. sketch comedy troupe The Groundlings, taking the piss out of flyover over 40s, then skipping ahead a bit, is talking about the that transition you say. But as Barbara Starr unfolds, its quirky heroines feel less and less like stand ins for a certain kind of TJ Maxx shopper. Instead, the film goes for something far more specific and silly, loving and often lovely. Where are so many comedies? Are either retreads of old ideas or feel designed by committee to hit newsy talking points? Barbara Starr is the rare film that Phil sui generis in both conceit and execution. Barbara Starr or such finally drawn characters that there could be nobody else but themselves. So that really spoke to me and exactly what I love about this movie. And this is how I was, I guess going to frame it to you is that this movie gets compared a lot to Bridesmaids, which, of course, was written by the the co-writer and co-stars of this movie, Anyone Below, and Kristen Wiig. And another movie that sprung to mind was Spy, which is this wild sort of spoof of James Bond films. That’s also a female friendship binding movie with incredible performances by Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne. I love both Bridesmaids and Spy, but I found this movie far more original than either one and in a way more exciting. I mean, I can see why Bridesmaids changed comedy history. It’s an important movie. It’s still a very funny movie. But this sui generis quality that you point to, I think, is is so much more vibrant in this movie, which really could only have come out of the imaginations of these two women who are friends in real life.
S2: It’s definitely stranger than any other sort of female driven comedy I’ve seen in a long time. The joke to me feels like a joke that two friends make. Together late at night after a couple glasses of wine or a bit of really good joint, and then it just continues to build and build, and it’s these characters kind of feel lived-in left on the way that you might kind of like running, that you would do with your best friend over the years. And, you know, you have a sense that they understand exactly who these characters are. I was worried, like I said in the review when I first started watching it, that it was going to be kind of lampooning of sort of Midwestern 40 something, 50 something fly over denizen mom culture. They love coolants and Capri pants. I thought it might be kind of like a lambasting of the sort of the sickness of the Midwestern mom or something. But it actually turns out that these characters are sick at all. They’re incredibly quirky, strange. We never do think they’re going to do absolutely unexpected materialists, but also thirsty, like there’s so many things about the characters that are just only these characters, like I’ve never seen this before in a world, except that it does come from on a kind of woman that you don’t often see in films and definitely not as the main comedic leader of film, which is middle aged women.
S1: Right. And that freedom that you feel in the comic relationship between any woman and Kristen Wiig, I feel like it echoes into the characters. I mean, you believe in the character’s friendship because you believe in where these writers are going to take you. And there’s a really nice analogy for that early in the movie that you also write about that. I think also for me was the moment I really fell in love with the movie, which is this story they make up on the airplane to talk about. Trish, can you talk about
S2: trishaw so far? Been strong, Bob, by the way, who Annie Mumolo, please. Her name is Barb Starr, who because her name is short for Star. A little joke that I think is incredibly funny, that Barb is not short for Barbara Starr. Short for Scarborough. Right.
S1: It’s also because of their kind of improvisational, overlapping style. There’s so many jokes that get buried. And if you watch it again and listen to a different person, you’ll hear a different joke.
S2: They live together in a house. They’re roommates in this house. They also are co-workers at the Jennifer Convertibles Store, which, if you don’t remember, it was this sort of now defunct chain that sold like sort of pleather love seats. And they find out that Jennifer Convertibles has gone bankrupt, but their store was the last to know and nobody told them. So they say they find this out. And the same day that they have this women’s group that meets at their house, run by a kind of dictatorial fascistic leader played by Vanessa Bayer in an incredibly funny little cameo. And they just feel lost and they’ve lost their jobs. They’re both single. I think what we learned is that Star is a divorcee and her husband, Carmine Testa, vaguely left her and Barb is a widow. And so they are sort of Sandmen sans inspiration. And Sande’s, what a star ends up calling their sparkle something that they’ve lost along the way. They’re sort of still adventurous spirit. They run into a friend who has just come back from Vista del Mar, where she’s she says something like, it’s like this place for like middle aged people to party. Like she says something like you can just like rocka. What is it that that she says about this to Domar that is so funny. Something like it’s a place you can like where a statement that goes to the principal put a lot of jewelry there like you can where she goes to the pool type thing. So they decide to go on this impromptu vacation to get on a flight to Vista del Mar, Florida. Now they’re on this flight and along the way they are bored on the plane and they start telling each other a story about a fantasy woman because they both discover that though they’ve been friends for years, they did not know each other’s favorite name in the world. First name was Tresh, which is just funny to me because who who romanticizes the name for it? They do. You know,
S5: that reminds me, the other day I said to myself, I cannot think of a famous actress named Trash. You’re kidding. That’s my favorite name. But I do hope we never talked about this.
S2: And they start coming up with this idea of a person of interest and why that person is so funny to them and feel the love. And it’s like these incredibly specific jokes, like she’s a woman who loves the holidays, because when we go through this Christmas, forget it to me.
S5: A woman named Tresh is a woman you can count on, really has her act together, athletic, natural, just real natural and loves the holidays to be out with her girlfriends country dancing. She has a natural sense of rhythm. She’d have one. Or double pierced and the other just single once when I was applying for a job at Talbert’s, I told him my name is Tresh. Well, remember when I
S2: am just looking it up on the thing that makes him so funny is that like Wiggen Mumolo, a never breakbeat go on week long. Like, one of the things I love about this movie is it’s not a pretty standard joke past when it gets funny, go around the horn, come back again. I’ll keep eating it until it becomes absolutely hilarious. A British thing is like that. So it’s like you think the first thing is done like four times, but it’s not on fresh
S5: loses whatever of is in a twister. But now we’re hearing she’s a storm chaser. Her mom does not want her to be. Well, the relationship is tough. Trish has always wanted to be a portrait photographer. She loves people. She would always say a person’s face is a lot about how they look.
S2: Oh, it’s beautiful. And then finally, there’s still time that after the flight and they’re like, she has cancer and she decides she’s going to just like die in a valiant sort of stellman way. And then she said,
S5: you know what, skin cancer. You are not going to take me. Because I’m going to take my own life, and she did. She jumped off that cliff near her house on the Cape York, right into the water, hitting every rock on the way. Now, there’s a beautiful spirit out there in the ocean.
S2: I with her laying on the escalator and it worked themselves in such a frenzy about stress. It’s just so funny to me. That’s when I knew that the movie, like in the sort of old sense of the phrase, like it was one that really carried me because I knew that I was in good hands because that a joke, that specific can only be done by people that really know it’s actors, know what they’re doing and understand the stakes. And then I was like, I got to say, I’m in good hands.
S1: Completely agree. I’m always a sucker for the joke that wraps along around and goes on far too long. And it also becomes kind of a metaphor for what the movie itself is about to do. Right. I mean, the movie itself is just about to break as many rules as they did in their strange fantasy invention of Tresh on the plane, because that’s we’ll see. You know, we have moments of it bursting into a Hollywood style musical and we have talking animals and we have all kinds of things that suddenly put this put this world into a cartoon like universe. That was one of my notes while watching it. The first time, actually, is that it borrows a lot of things from the world of comic strips and cartoons, not in the sense that it, you know, seems to be adapted after any one comic strip. In fact, it’s wildly original in that way. But, you know, when we get to talking about the villain and you know about these moments of animation that pop in, there’s something there’s something very anything goes in the universe of this movie where you don’t feel that the reality has been seriously torn asunder just because there’s suddenly a talking crab.
S2: Yeah, yeah. And I think it’s just the coloration of the film to this kind of Technicolor quality. You know, Barbara Starr dressed in various shades with fruit punch and lemonade and fuchsia and cantaloupe and lime green. You know, the colors are kind of like. Garish. You know, Chicos Catalog’s, summer resort collection type colors, so it has a really fun palette that feels Tartini and there are little moments along the way and I’m sure we’ll get to them. But I think that this one moment in which Kristen Wiig has like sort of like feel dizzy and she shakes her head, it sounds like the tinkling in a cartoon, like when a cartoon character sort of shakes their head. And it turns out that that sound that plays when she shakes her head is somebody’s cell phone ring tone. But it feels like it was in it sort of like digestive sound that was meant to make it seem like they’re living in a cartoon. But then it was explained to the same tone and their little jokes like that all along the way that heightened the level of sort of a cartoon meets reality. Who’s afraid of Roger Rabbit type heightened sort of Looney Tunes reality, but then also reminds you that it’s supposed to take place in the real world, too. So it’s just this funny just position that they constantly are playing with.
S1: Yeah, actually, that’s a joke right out of Mel Brooks. Right. I mean, the idea that a sound that you think is is in the soundtrack is actually happening at that moment. The jingle of her head, it have in Blazing Saddles, actually. And there’s another joke like that. We haven’t talked about the villainess yet and we’ll get there. But you remember when she trains the mice to play in the orchestra and then suddenly they’re
S2: scoring and you think there’s some sort of like a dramatic evil swelling strings. But it’s actually she’s trained these mice to be a little orchestra. Yeah, I think there are smart touches like that all along the way. And maybe we can bring up the villain now, because since we’re sort of going through the plot alongside Barbara Starr heading to Florida, something else is happening with regards to this ademar, which is that this woman whose name is Sharon Gordon, fishermen and the cast list,
S1: and although she’s hardly named on screen. Right. She’s just sort of the eminent villain.
S2: She’s hardly named you. She’s just of useful. And she’s played by Kristen Wiig. She is this kind of alpina, sort of very cool woman with dark, dark, black bob, very severe, whereas only white clothes, it’s very much like a sort of a Lucasta from Zoolander type exaggerated. So unless you go
S1: right, Zoolander is a good reference. She’s fantastically styled by the
S2: way she
S1: sails. And I didn’t recognize Kristen Wiig for some time because she also has some kind of tooth piece in. I think she has different teeth than than Kristen Wiig.
S2: She didn’t look like she has a henchman and she also has a boyfriend who, number two, is played by Jamie Jordan, who has. Enlisted to help her carry out a plot against the entire town of the Fidelma, where later we find out that she grew up and was terribly bullied and has a kind of cruelty, Stephen King like experiences as a teenager and now has just decided that she shall have her vengeance on the entire town of Florida. And her plan involves.
S1: But I just have to add that her her carry like moment of humiliation involves her being shot out of a cannon while wearing a shrimp crown. So the flashback that we see is both traumatic and hilarious.
S2: Yeah. For like the shrimp queen contest. And also she can’t be friends with anyone in town because she’s like, you know, terribly pale. And so she cannot be in the sun in Florida, which means that she’s ostracized socially. So her plan involves unleashing a swarm of deadly killer genetically modified mosquitoes on this entire town. And Jamie Dornan is going to help her in that plot as he’s hoping that the result of him helping her carry out this scheme is that they will be a quote unquote official couple at last, which is I guess they’re dating. And his dream is that they will be an official couple, a joke that becomes so long running throughout the movie that, again, it goes just way too far. And you’re like, how many times can they say the line? A couple. And then by the time you hear it, you’re like on the floor laughing like, I can’t not picture a couple
S1: official couple is brilliant. It’s one of my favorite jokes.
S2: Like, I texted all my friends afterwards, like a couple like I texted all my friends, like.
S1: And one more thing on official. There’s also an emotional payoff to official couple, because the moment that Kristen Wiig finally says it to him and means it right and she doesn’t know I love it. I love that payoff.
S2: I know. So so he had some good. So he wants to be with her and she couldn’t be indifferent, if not downright sort of issuing a rejection. So there’s a lot of tension there. So that’s just one. So that’s the dynamic. There’s this whole other sort of subplot going on with the mosquito attack and starland and this ademar, they’re having a great time. The first thing that happens when they get there and this is another thing where you’re saying it kind of changes genre immediately, is that they get to their hotel, which turns out to not be their hotel, although they eventually end up getting a room there when there’s a vacancy, which is like amazing sort of middle aged grotto where you can always have air conditioning and iced tea and, you know, everything is just perfect for you. And it becomes the kind of Busby Berkeley musical number. And they’re singing and dancing and high kicking and synchronized swimming and all kinds of choreography that just comes out of nowhere, but for some reason it doesn’t feel shoehorned into me.
S1: Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s the thing I think that this movie managed to do in a somewhat miraculous way. I would actually like to see the screenplay to figure out how it builds this. But this feels like a unified story with integrity. Right. It doesn’t feel like a Saturday Night Live style movie with a bunch of funny skit ideas kind of loosely tied together. But as we describe it, it seems almost impossible that it could not be like that as it switches from, you know, suburban satire to musical number. And later it will become this kind of spy spoof. And it seems like that would just feel like a bundle of unrelated sketches. But I really felt a through line, not just with the friendship of the two women, but but also with the villain story, I
S2: mean, a world view that these women have. And that remains consistent, which is that Barbara Starr sort of even from the very beginning when we see them sitting in their couch and Jennifer convertibles just talking away about everything on Earth, have an incredible amount of optimism about the world, a kind of naive naiveté, but at the same time, they’re not. Yokels from nowhere, they they are. Flesh and blood women who have sexual desire and desire for adventure and for their lives to change, but they have a kind of goofball happy vibe around them that seems to lead to all these fantastical things happening. And I think one of the reasons that it doesn’t feel like just a series of SNL sketches together into a film is that the logic of Barbara Starr sort of worldview never changes, which is that it’s kind of like the wolves could be magical. And so it is.
S1: Right. And at the end, we’ll talk about the very ending. But they they honestly just manifest that magic magic in the world, right. By way of deus ex machina.
S2: Yeah. I mean, it’s this thing where I started out being like this is to study by the movie. And then by the end I was like, I need to go back to the beginning and watch it because my serotonin needs this. Like there there’s something about how I just continually feel like I want to live inside the world. But Kristen and then created in this movie, which is just like one of complete hope and joy. So, yeah, I find that to be very consistent. So anyways, they become they finally get a place in this hotel. Everything is going great. And then they meet up with Edgar, who is the strange dawning character one night, and they all get to drinking and end up with this hilarious kind of like menage a trois, drunken evening, every little detail in the film. To me, it’s like there’s just noticed it everywhere. The more you watch it, the more this movie gives you. I find this one of those comedies that you could watch like 10 times. And every time there was something totally different because they put little subtle visual jokes in every scene. There’s a scene in which they’re packing and they have a bunch of stuff into a suitcase and they’re narrating it. But there’s a suitcase that they put in that they’re not even narrating. And if you go back and watch it like five times every time you see something so funny that they put their suitcase, like,
S1: you know, the packing is great. Go ahead.
S2: So, yeah, no, I mean, full on, like ceramic cookie jars, frozen meals from an area. I mean, row for no reason. Like with the
S1: rope there’s a payback with the rope when they get tied up with it, right.
S2: Yeah, absolutely. But it is very funny, the packing. And then, you know, I think the same thing they like when they’re walking on the boardwalk and of the little shops have names and all the names are Beach Beecham’s. The kind that only like a dad could come up with, it’s it’s like there’s little things all throughout the film and like this is a fully fleshed out world in these woman’s mind.
S1: Right. And about that that first wild night they have, I just I wanted to talk about the morning after shot. That is both A, extremely hilarious. And B, just I think so prototypical of the the great kind of polymorphous perversity of this movie that even though it is parodying this very particular kind of repressed woman or, you know, I guess a stereotype of a repressed woman, these women are not at all repressed. And this movie is incredibly kinky and his way and really welcoming of, you know, whatever experience of desire they want to have in their in their adventures in Vista del Mar. And when they wake up the next morning. Right. I mean, that shot of them is right out of silent comedy is just it’s a purely visual joke. So we’ve got I think it’s Kristen Wiig on the bottom, then Jamie Dornan in the middle and then Annie Mumolo on top. It’s really clear that they’ve all spent the night together. Yeah, but they have, again, a kind of almost cartoonish, kind of comical look. And then there’s this very long take of them all, sort of with their eyes darting in different directions, trying to figure out who’s on top of them and remembering everything that happened. And it is just so funny and it’s adult without being dirty. Like, there’s this great way that this movie is sort of raunchy but clean spirited at the same time.
S2: Well, yeah. I mean, I think that its attitude toward sex is incredibly reflection and wonderful and game and funny. I mean, there’s never any judgment about any of the sex in this movie. That’s what I love and know those like. Theologizing of all the women over 40 have of active, raunchy sex life, you know, not even a question that comes into the mind like, oh, we had a three way another Tuesday, you know, it’s kind of like it’s gone out again or when and since this is a spoiler, I guess you can say, for Kristen Wiig starts having her own sort of private fling infatuation with Edgar. I mean, they’re having sex everywhere. It’s incredibly acrobatic. You know, in the middle of conversation, she’ll just be like, Edgar, I need you inside me. But it’s a goofy plot, you know, or something about it. It sounds so like Brandi is like an old school, like slapstick and it’s like fully embodied in fully game. And then on top of that, it’s it’s it’s really like, you know, the sexual elements of the movie are just sort of footnote compared to what the movie is trying to say about friendship and longevity of of not only just relationships that you have with your friends, but with yourself and with reinvention and aging and not losing your sort of spontaneity. And Shimura, those are the bigger themes of the film. I like that sex becomes kind of like a subconscious or a subtitle and not not the main thrust of the movie. Right.
S1: It’s one of the vectors of their self realization and they’re on their Florida resort. But it’s by no means the main one. Right? I mean, the main one really is, I think just them connecting to freedom or desire of any kind, including that great day, just the montage of the day that any movie, Willow’s character Barb has just out on the trail walking over coals. What is going on? Her crazy day goes on.
S2: They kind of have their own separate. Know Star goes off to have this affair with Edgar, which is its own kind of excitement because she’s been alone once, that kind of romance is looking for more self realisation goes off on her own sort of journey. Well, Annette Funicello is Pineapple Princess plays, which is just about the most joyful song on the face of the Earth. And she’s like hang gliding while smoking pot. She’s trying out something in a way. Well, she’s riding a motorcycle without having to shoot her armpit. She’s having a blast. She runs into a hilarious. Because who’s playing the politics of Harlem, who is kind of a sort of oracle in this world? I mean, Tommy Bahama is in every other way, just a brand that makes Hawaiian shirts and glorification of their world with a Tommy Bahama. And he is played by industrial and urban caterson kind of out in the bush. And they have a conversation about, you know, living for yourself. It’s so funny also. It’s just it’s such a link. I think I put this in my review, but Andy Garcia has in the last few years become kind of like a sex symbol for like a certain kind of middle aged one wine loving Chardonnay drinking. We have someplace to just like just for the sake of our lives. And it is such a funny bar to that proclivity that they got him for this role.
S1: So it’s true. This is the third role I can think of where he is essentially spoofed, that kind of, you know, Latin lover persona of late, middle aged. He did it in Mamma Mia, too. He did it in that Diane Keaton comedy. I know.
S2: I think he’s really feeling it. So, you know, there’s a little something on the way. We haven’t even talked about the other musical number. Speaking of jokes, that is Jamie Darden’s number, which, you know, again, I just didn’t know Jamie Dornan had it in him. But there’s something about the world of this movie that invites people to play completely silly. And he sings this song because he’s still lamenting that he cannot be the same couple with the villainous. And listen in to the seagulls of the beach about his sorrow in a single person and their high stakes involved here, which I think a body double is clearly doing it. But it is just so funny. I don’t care whether Steiglitz completely and it is truly comical. I laughed so hard during Feebles in the sand. Can you hear my career
S3: and like my blood, a pound on a stove and it’s heated me up to the max. So I’m running on my legs just as fast as I can. To the left, to the right. I’m a frustrated man that while I was licking my tiptoes to kick up the sand because I can understand all this fire
S4: that’s raging inside me. Seagull’s in the same. Can you hear my. I have tried. I’m getting nowhere. That’s enough. Oh, come on. In November in.
S1: Oh, my God, utterly, I think we need a little sidebar here on Jamie Dornan, because this is a movie about and by two women, and I love that it’s completely their story and the story of their friendship and that, you know, the the hot young guy that one of them hooks up with at the beach is not the focus. But Jamie Dornan is so much more than the hot young guy they hook up with at the beach in this movie, both in his performance and in the writing of his character. He’s this really sort of unusual, vulnerable character. Right? He’s a villain not by choice, but by, you know, because he’s enchained in love to this terrible villainous who’s trying to get him to destroy this whole town. And so he has that moral conflict.
S2: He just wants to have an official girlfriend, right? Yeah.
S1: He does it all out of just, you know, just just desire to be with his love. And it says, my love when her name comes up on his phone, which I also absolutely adored. But what brilliant casting of Jamie Dauntingness, right? I mean, the 50 Shades of Grey, you know, the sort of I’ve only seen one of those movies, but the steely gaze and I mean, all of that stuff is completely gone. He’s this very vulnerable man who is in no way mocked by the screenplay for Falling in Love with this older woman who he seems to have nothing whatsoever in common with. Right. I mean, their love is taken in a way very seriously. And then he just reveals his incredible comic and musical chops where I really feel like and I think you may have said this in your uterus, it’s kind of a career changing role for him. I certainly think of him in a completely different way.
S2: Oh, me too. I mean, Damon Wayans Jr., for example, who just has a small cameo as a spy who cannot keep his own secrets. And every time I see the movie back up his character to come here to me like there’s a line with his, he’s trying to call Jamie Dornan on like a clothesline. But he’s like, it’s like color. I come up and Jamie is like, no. And he just goes, yeah, I want to do something like this. But I could have done that line reading. So they got some people that are just naturally hands. But Jamie Dornan was such a brilliant and inspired casting. That’s just not the way. Although I think I did put in my review that it was just his first intentionally comedic role, because obviously Fifty Shades is like a camp classic that everybody goes to to kind of bask in the ridiculousness of that movie. And, you know, the you know, whether or not they’re playing it straight, it’s really there’s a thin line there. So obviously, I think Jamie Dornan could do comedy and we all know that. But the fact that this is clearly a role where he is stretching his legs, I like Jamie Dornan, host of SNL, when you know what I mean. Like, I think it’s so funny. And what we love about this is that, you know, because this is a women, I kind of just like love all the things that they make men do in it, like there’s a certain kind of power you like and now you will do spins and now you will be you know, he’s almost kind of like clearly doing exactly what and and Kristen had in mind for him. And there’s something about it that just feel so wonderful because, you know, I don’t know if you really see comedies like a man at the supporting character and also the most vulnerable and also the kind of. Punchline, rather than tweeting leading the movie,
S1: right, yeah, he has a punchline at times in a very affectionate way, but he is often sort of playing playing the fool in his scenes. And also, I don’t know if you noticed at the end in the credits, but the lyrics to both of these songs, the Busby Berkeley style, welcome to the hotel. No. And this climbing a palm tree with Jamie Dauman Dauman song is are written by any Mumolo and Kristen Wiig. So, you know, he really was literally performing their words and their song as he as he sings. And I did Seagull in Ataya. Can you hear my prayer? Keep on trying, but I’m getting nowhere. It’s so good.
S2: Oh, my God. It’s truly so funny. And I mean, there are just so many moments where they make the smart choices, for example, before Edgar, but we commit to DA and we go on a date without star knowing and then later start go on a date without Barb knowing. And they both enact these hilarious alibis when they’re trying to explain to each other where they were when they were on a date with Edgar. Barbara Starr. And they both come up with this concept that they met a turtle in separate occasions. Stars like I met a turtle on the beach. I followed it to its house. And then Barb, who is taking a bath, and she’s like, and I met a turtle and but that and there’s something about them both decided that the best way to make up a lie is that they were with a turtle being the absolute dumbest and best way they could have handled that joke. Just, you know, the idea of them getting on a banana boat is a running joke. Throughout the show, there is a real life lounge singer named Richard Keys, who is a kind of jokey lounge act, who sings sort of lewd and lascivious lounge songs, who is the lounge singer at this Vista del Mar Hotel. And he comes up over and over as a recurring character.
S1: Another note on him on The Pianist is that they wrote those songs, too. They wrote those songs about I Love Boobies, I love Casablanca’s or whatever he’s singing is they go to the bar.
S2: Oh, my God. Or there’s one where he’s just like some friends from high school who have recently passed wear this thing. And also because I look all that crap that appears out of nowhere in the fan base of Morgan Freeman, the claims his name is Morgan Freeman with a B and is clearly a crab that has had the life experiences of Morgan Freeman, which is just completely, genuinely odd and. Who knows where that came from, I mean, that truly sounds like something that somebody had had in their pocket for 20 years and had always wanted to use and then finally just put it in the movie. I mean, so many moments of this movie, that feeling of like they may have had this joke in their pocket for years or just at least like we’re looking for a moment to use that pun or that that put in that kind of nod to like Barbra Streisand is very good, like the little henchman kid like that, like who we that come from. And you can only guess that, like, you know, one night Kristen Wiig was listening to it and was like, this record is insane. I have to use it for something someday. And I think so many parts of this movie feel like that is finally getting to use your best material. And that to me, is the real joy of watching it because you’re seeing them firing on all cylinders. And what that means is that they’ve kind of had a plan for this movie. You know, if not if not in actuality, then kind of in a dream world. So they can just put in whatever they want.
S1: Right? I mean, it’s really it says something about where film comedy is is at right now that that feels so unusual. Right. And that even really highly praised and successful comedies like Bridesmaids that we’re talking about come from a recognizable genre or, you know, they’re maybe spoofing like Spy is spoofing James Bond or
S2: and I love Bridesmaids. And I think there’s some weird parts of that movie and everything Melissa McCarthy is doing. Is unexplainable, I mean,
S1: it’s very much in the line of what we’re
S2: type I mean, her character with the puppies and everything, but yes, that the sitting in the street to have a diarrhoeal accident and their wedding dress feels like classic gross out comedy that came before or certain kinds of slapstick beats that that movie has recognizable. It’s just so strange and has no rhythm that I’ve ever experienced before. And it reminded me of these great comedies, I think of the in my review, but of comedies that these are the time are not. Is there anything beyond kitsch? But they sort of a crude cult following over time as people’s favorite movie because of the fact that they just completely are are so original and keep rewarding it with multiple viewings and their stuff. You didn’t notice the first time. I mean, I’m thinking to say like an Austin Powers or something, even though that was an immediate hit, obviously. But I think that kind of movie got that that sort of beloved following or you quoted and everything seems so strange. And it’s like Mike Myers knew that genre of 1960s spy film so well that it was just absolutely amazing that of what he wanted to do and to create I mean, the same thing with something like, you know, a Josie and the Pussycats, which is now getting a big critical revival. I think when you look back at that movie, everything Parker Posey is doing in it is absolutely off the map. And there are great jokes in that movie and people have started to sort of revive it or say they were supposed to go Ghast or something like this. Roots, these movies that are kind of political comedies because quote them excessively and they become a part of your world. And I think in my view, I created a tweet from a comedian cultural condition, who said that he had little kids and only one of them gets it and later says that it kind of explained all you. And that’s kind of how I feel about the best comedies, which is that is going to get it. Like I said, I was to sick with that Bob and Star on Twitter when I first saw it. And some people often have tepid response to it or sent me a tweet being like that wasn’t so bad I didn’t get it. And part of me was like, I’m so happy that you didn’t. Because for those of us that did get it, like it’s I going to watch it every year.
S1: Yeah, I know. I’ve already seen it twice since it came out. And I feel like it’s also, as you say, something that would be absolutely a pleasure to see in a big theater with with people all around you. I could imagine it having sort of a Rocky Horror Picture Show style cult following where you could bring things to throw at the screen.
S2: Culottes be the only sadness was that I didn’t get to see it for the first time in a big theater surrounded by people because it’s one of those films that deserves it. It deserves a group of people seeing it at midnight, showing and losing their minds. And we’ll never have that for the first time because they do release something that it becomes a kind of shape. I could see it becoming kind of a staple of repertory theater where they show sort of fun, silly comedies. And I could see it becoming part of that rotation that people get really excited about seeing with other people, because there are so many little images that I think will reward that kind of dedicated following. For sure.
S1: So having followed Barbara Starr through their six day adventure at Vista del Mar, we haven’t talked that much about the the encroaching evil plan of what’s her name again. All right. Ingold fishermen, the evil Kristen Wiig character.
S1: She is continuing her machinations to to bust up the what is it called? The Seafood Jam, the town’s annual
S2: celebration of the seafood jam and the shrimp queen crowning.
S1: And this, of course, was the event where she was ritually humiliated all these years before as a teenager. And so she now plans to get revenge by releasing these deadly genetically modified mosquitoes on the crowd. And we have this kind of an action sequence ending, but one that I think has a lot of of great differences from your standard action sequence ending where? Well, we’ll get we’ll get to exactly how Barbara Starr get themselves out of it. But do you have anything to observe about, you know, this 10 minutes or so at the end of, you know, of spy pursuit?
S2: You know, you can have a little bit of an Austin Powers feel to it. They get tied up and departments are tied up by the Jamie Dornan character and they find a way to get out of it.
S1: And really great editing in that sequence. By the way, the editing of the sequence where they’re escaping from ropes,
S2: it’s a sort of wonderful use of physical comedy. Every time he turns around, they’re in a different sort of Twista position, which is control of their body to make it look like,
S1: but trying to act very natural about it.
S2: That’s the funny part of it. There’s there’s a couple key scenes, bombastic things that happen. But really, like you were saying, the film is all leading up to the very last moment, which is that the mosquitoes, there’s sort of a homing beacon for the mosquito you’re going to be drawn to. And I guess it had been planted on the main stage, this event. But then, Bob, take it and they decide they’re going to like take it into the ocean on a jet ski to save the whole town. And they do this. And in doing so, Sharon Gordon, fisherman, is also involved and they have a showdown in the deep water. And ultimately she gets sort of horribly bombarded by the middle and gets bombarded by the mosquitoes that she herself created about to start going underwater to avoid mosquito attack. And in doing so, they’re sort of drowning.
S1: Can I just say I love their underwater conversation done entirely in subtitles and the idea that they know each other so well, they can just communicate underwater without
S2: they’re just looking at each other going like, this is it, this is the end. We’re going to die this time. And then it’s all done in subtitles. It’s like a silent film comedy, honestly. And then they have this. Truly inspired sequence in which their life flashes before their eyes and they see various. So it’s it’s what makes it so brilliant is that it allows you to relive a lot of events from the movie. It’s almost like having a greatest hits scene at the end of the movie, but it’s done in line with the character’s thinking. So doesn’t again, it doesn’t feel like a film shoehorned in best. Of course. It’s just like they’re replaying all these funny moments. So there’s a certain moments, like you mentioned so beautifully sometimes that Kermit the Frog needed is like a bicycle. And so that’s that’s why Bart doesn’t like that before. She has like flashes before I get comment on his, like, there’s something very like every little joke is brought back. And then, of course, they’re magically saved during the. I kind of. Wonderful ways that sort of brings them back and they don’t end and it’s magical, and I guess this is a big sliver of it all. But do you want to say that for sure?
S1: Well, yeah. So you think that they’re being brought back? I didn’t know if they were being brought back by, you know, possibly they were standing on a submarine or one of those classic old kind of gags. But it seems like they’re riding on the back of a mermaid played by Reba McEntire named named. This is my manifestation point from earlier on. I mean, they made Trish come to be right. Their story made Trish come to me. You know,
S2: they say what it was. Trish, Trish is a magical sea spirit that just loves a good time. And a played by Reba McEntire, who apparently had no idea what she was signing up for or just showed up as a good time gal that she is and still in the scene and has been since a giant promoter of this movie, like the narcoterrorist cheated out of one hundred. Oh, my
S1: God, I didn’t know that. That’s so good.
S2: She just left and she has the good hearted nature of Trish within her. So and I feel like it was so perfect that Reba played that role because there’s something about Reba that who would be a hero to Bob and Starr, her sort of love of life, or Reba, you know, so it just seemed like this perfect ending. So, yes, to save the day and Edgar and Star end up getting into their official relationship
S1: and then the villainess reappears,
S2: Bill Villainous actually survives. But ultimately, all she wants in the world is a plan and everyone offers to be her friend. So it’s incredibly good hearted and them and they all end up just being buddies and getting on a banana boat. And I’m an inventor and it’s the most sort of downhill comedy like this. So nobody dies? No. Truly maimed or harmed, everybody’s just kind of getting along and dreaming about enjoying their life in the sun, and yet it doesn’t feel hokey. It just feels like, oh, I wanted to look into the world of this movie where everyone is happy.
S1: I think you’re really right, too. And pointing out that this movie wound up being the perfect pandemic movie despite itself. Right? I mean, what doesn’t it have? It gives us all the experiences that we can’t have stuck inside. It came out in the dead of winter when it would have been even more welcome. Right. With this kind of tropical world it takes us to. Yeah, but it also just seems like it belongs it belongs in the Pandemic Hall of Fame for some reason. And you have to help me understand why. Like, I feel like when I look back at movies that that came out during this time that are associated with this time, this will always be one. And yet why when they’re the opposite of claustrophobia?
S2: Because I think that so I think I think tells us something like the one Dacher, you have a film and that’s certainly me. Like, it felt like being on vacation when I can’t go anywhere and not taunting me or not feeling like, oh, I can’t I can’t leave your house right now and go to Florida. It was more like, let me gently take your hand and as much as I can, you know, help you disassociate from whatever’s going on in your life, you know, to other more brilliantly colored world. And at the same time, I think it has a kind of kind of identity politics is everybody just really needs a laugh. And it’s not invested in much more than making you laugh. You know, I think, yes, it has some bigger things to say about friendship and sexuality, of authority and, you know, loyalty to your person and all of these bigger themes. But what it really is trying to say is that it’s trying to be funny and that it’s trying to. Be lighthearted and take you out of yourself for a while, and if anything, that’s what people needed during the pandemic. I mean, I found I found that I didn’t want to watch anything about the pandemic. I didn’t want to watch anything sort of depressing. A lot of my viewing of movies this last year has either been, you know, new comedies like this that I felt like were really hitting or revisiting sort of old comfort shows and comedies and movies that just make me feel hopeful and, you know, doesn’t compound everything going on in the world. Obviously, you don’t want to turn away from it, but that’s what I think of. This is kind of an MVP because I think it would have been powerful as a comedy had it come out last summer in a different timeline where none of this ever happened. But I think it actually strangely had the best reception and the and the best sort of voyage out during the pandemic. And I think that’s why they chose to go through. They had a hunch that that would be so.
S1: Well, Rachel, I think we’ve reached the end, unfortunately, of the movie and of the spoiler special. I’m really glad I got to talk about this one with you. It’s striking to me the extent to which we found the exact same things funny. I feel like every one of us kind of story creating about this movie, because every joke you specifically cited was one that I wrote down a note of how much I laughed at it. So thank you for making me see. This movie actually is because of you that I made sure to go out of my way and see it. And I hope listeners will
S2: thank you for having me densified.
S1: So that’s our show for today. You can subscribe to the Slate spoiler special podcast feed. And if you like our show, please read it and review it in the Apple podcast store or wherever you get your podcasts. And of course, if you have suggestions for movies or TV shows you’d like us to spoil in future or other feedback to share, you can send it to spoilers at Slate Dotcom. Our producer today was Morgan Flannery. For Rachel Syme, I’m Dana Stevens. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll talk to you soon.