Jamie Dornan rips off his pistachio-colored polo shirt as he leaps above the sand, his legs spread 180 degrees. He caresses his pecs, singing as the surf laps against his golden body, a mysterious woman’s face in his mind’s eye.
No, it’s not my 50 Shades of Gray beach-bash-themed fan fiction; it’s Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s first movie together since their Oscar nomination for Bridesmaids ten years ago. Imagine if Lisa Frank remade the Austin Powers movies with middle-aged women as protagonists—that’s Barb and Star. It goes down like a blue raspberry slushy on a 90 degree day. It’s obsessively, refreshingly stupid and well worth your time—the closest, safest thing to a beach vacation right now.
Barb and Star is a gloriously silly farce—the characters would call it a gloriously silly fart—about two midwestern women (Wiig and Mumolo) trying to get their “shimmer” back by taking a gal’s trip to the Florida coast. In the process, they stumble upon a murder plot that Edgar (Dornan) is putting into action on behalf of the evil Dr. Lady (also played by Wiig, in mime makeup). Edgar meets Barb and Star and the three of them grind to a techno version of “My Heart Will Go On,” before engaging in a sort of Nebraskan Eiffel Tower. (Barb’s relatable pickup line: “Men find me disgusting, and I’m okay with it.”)
Dornan is a full snack here—truly a shimmering green SnackWells pack of vanilla cookies, begging to be unwrapped. Our bar for straight men is so, so low and what Dornan does here is mostly look hot and act like a good sport, but that does the trick. Edgar longs for commitment—he’d do anything to be in an “official couple,” even kill a whole town of people. (Don’t worry about it!)
With the help of a body double, I assume, he pirouettes on the sand, belting out a love song, shimmying up a palm tree, yearning for a blissful monogamy with an older woman. Dornan aces his role, but he should be forever grateful to Wiig and Mumolo for writing it. (Though Wiig asked him to do the ill-fated “Imagine” video, so maybe they’re even.) The Edgar character is a triumph of one version of the female gaze, and the world is a little better for its existence.