Entirely spoilery about the whole plot, though nothing was as surprising to me as discovering that culottes are apparently pronounced COO-lots. Who knew? (My four-star review is here.)
How could I dislike a comedy about middle-aged women that begins with Barry Gibb and Barbra Streisand singing Guilty?
Little Yoyo is singing along to the song as he delivers newspapers around the neighbourhood, before he travels to an ancient tree and descends through the trunk to the Lair Of Doctor Lady.
Dr Lady has an evil plan is to kill all the residents of Vista Del Mar in Florida, using genetically-modified mosquitoes. One sting will kill, and indeed she tests it on her chief scientist, who is way too invested in using the technology to save the world instead.
Her reasons for killing everyone in the town stems back to her childhood. Living in Vista Del Mar, she had been bullied for her skin condition – pigmentatia-degenera-hysterica-whiteskinia – and only had one friend, who was sadly then eaten by an alligator. Later, her father took her to the Seafood Jam in the town, where school meanies pushed her on stage for the Shrimp Queen pageant. Mistaken for the winner, she was put in the cannon and fired into the sea, landing naked in the pool of a Disney cruise ship where everyone laughed at her. He dad had a heart attack, her mum abandoned her, and now Dr Lady wants revenge on the town and its inhabitants.
Edgar Paget is in her lair too – he dreams of being part of an Official Couple with Dr Lady, and she uses this to rope him into her nefarious scheme. Giving him a receiver and a microchip, and an antidote to the mosquitoes, she sends him off to Vista Del Mar, just as Barb and Star are heading there for a vacation.
Barb and Star live in the midwest, and have shared a house since Barb’s husband died and Star’s left her. Newly redundant, they realise they have also lost their shimmer, and only have old memories to sustain them. On the plane to Vista Del Mar, they chat about how much they each love the name Trish, and the kind of life Trish would have.
Barb and Star’s hotel, the Palm Vista, is “a middle-aged nirvana” as the huge welcome number tells us, and a marshmallow-coloured heaven.
They meet Edgar that night in the cocktail bar, and spend the night drinking, taking drugs and dancing, waking up the next morning in a sandwich of beige undies with Edgar in the middle.
(He discovers later that during their passionate escapades he lost the microchip, stored in his belt buckle. A particularly useless agent called Darlie Bunkle is sent to secretly give Edgar a new one.)
Initially both women have the hots for Edgar though after separate evening walks, it is Star who has sex with him. To her it is a meaningless fling, but Edgar adores her. Yet because of Edgar, the women start lying to each other. Will Edgar drive a wedge into their friendship? Will it even matter if they’re all dead from genetically-engineered mosquitoes?
But Edgar is also pining for his evil Dr Lady love (a teeny bit), and Star is pining for Barb (a teeny bit), while Barb is learning to do stuff on her own, like getting stoned while paragliding off the back of boat.
When Edgar tells Dr Lady he no longer wants her, she responds that Barb and Star are spies; corroborated, he thinks, when he finds Barb listening at his door. He’s told to kill the two women. Meanwhile Barb has overheard him on the phone and knows he’s mixed up in something terrible.
Edgar appears in Barb and Star’s room and ties them up, explaining that he got involved with Dr Lady when his dad left home and he was left to support his 11 sisters. Since then she has roped him into increasingly criminal acts.
Edgar leaves, and though Barb and Star free themselves from the ropes Dr Lady appears and knocks them out. They wake up on a cliff edge, where they can choose to jump off or become dinner for her alligators. As the alligators approach, Barb and Star jump off, their culottes becoming “natural parachutes”, and they glide to the beach below.
Edgar finds Dr Lady and she admits Barb and Star were never spies. She presses the activation button to release the mosquitoes, which Yoyo has in a submersible out at sea. Barb and Star find the receiver at the Seafood Jam and run off with it; Edgar tells them to drive inland and he will drop the receiver in the sea as he has an antidote. Sadly the antidote turns out to be iced tea. As Edgar and Darlie Bunkle fight, the two women jet ski into the ocean with the receiver as Yoyo releases the mosquitoes.
Dr Lady cannons herself into the sea after them, but as the mosquitoes arrive the two friends duck under water. The mosquito cloud envelopes Dr Lady, while Barb and Star glide across the sea to the shore, powered by a water sprite called Trish.
Edgar and Star kiss, Dr Lady appears from the surf alive but covered in bites, and Barb gives a speech to Dr Lady about her own new powers and fearlessness. Dr Lady has no friends, so everyone on the beach agrees to be her friend.
Barb and Star find they have their shimmer back, unbeknown to them thanks to a silver refractor nearby. Edgar suggests drinks but first the two women go off on a banana boat together, while Trish gives a a pep talk about coming out of your box and living your life.
Yoyo appears, fires a party popper gun and everyone starts dancing on the beach.
Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar is available from several outlets including: