This story is going to get into deep spoilers for the new comedy Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar, so stop reading now if you haven’t yet seen the movie.
By now, you know that Barb and Star isn’t exactly the movie that it advertised itself to be. The trailers suggested a buddy comedy for middle-aged Midwestern ladies starring Kristen Wiig and her Bridesmaids co-writer, Annie Mumolo. And it IS that… but that kernel is wrapped inside of an unconventional spy movie starring a ghost-white Bond villain named Sharon Gordon Fisherman who has a devious revenge scheme worked up against the coastal Florida town of Vista Del Mar, where Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig) happen to be vacationing.
And in the role of Sharon Gordon Fisherman? Well, that’s Kristen Wiig, pulling double duty as the film’s evil villain, as well as one of the heroes who are going to foil Fisherman’s sinister plan. It’s similar to the days when Mike Myers would trade off scenes as both Austin Powers and his arch nemesis, Dr. Evil. Only, early audiences for Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar didn’t recognize Kristen Wiig in her second role, or so the film’s director tells us.
One of the greatest compliments I think to [Kristen Wiig] is that when we did early test screenings, it was so many people that were like, ‘Who is that villain? She's so good. I can't put my finger on who the actress is.’ And that's, I think, such a compliment to her role. My other fun, short story about that is we had a guy even working on the film, doing some color work early on in the process. He worked on the film for three days. Every day, I’d check in on him and he’d say, ‘Don't tell me. I haven't figured it out yet. I’ve got to go to IMDB. But I want to figure out who it is.’ He worked on it for three days and didn't figure it out that it was Kristen. We do a couple of tricks. We add a little tooth gap… and a little prosthetic on the nose, and obviously, she's actually wearing some interesting contact lenses. But the rest of it is just her performance and how she completely goes from one character to the other.
Sharon Gordon Fisherman looks like she’d be right at home in a Tim Burton movie. Her skin is pale white, and her hair is jet black. She despises the citizens of this quaint town for the way they humiliated Sharon at a young age. And this dual role is one that’s wildly unexpected, because all hints of the crime story are kept out of the film’s trailers.
For his part, Josh Greenbaum thinks it’s unprecedented what Kristen Wiig is doing on screen, stating:
Here's what's interesting for me. I don't know that I've ever seen [this] from a female [actor]. … I remember Peter Sellers did it in Dr. Strangelove. And of course the wonderful Mike Myers did it. But I can't really point to a female comedian doing it where she's the hero and the villain in the same film. And no one can do it as great as the amazing Kristen Wiig.
It really is a sight to see. And you can see it now that Barb and Star is available to stream everywhere that movies can be rented. Once you do, listen to our full interview with Josh Greenbaum.
And then check out the full review for Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar, written by our very own Eric Eisenberg.