This photo is from the official trailer of “Barb and Star,” distributed by Lionsgate

When we meet middle-aged, heterosexual life partners Barb (Annie Mumolo, “Looks that Kill”) and Star (Kristen Wiig, “Wonder Woman 1984”), they are chattering at each other in a way only 40-something Midwestern women can, talking endlessly about absolutely nothing. Their conversation is colorful, fast-paced, easily diverted and inconsequential. It sets the appropriate tone for the rest of the movie — but in this case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar,” directed by Josh Greenbaum in his feature film debut, is absurd in the best way; it’s not to be taken seriously by anyone, least of all itself.

After losing their jobs at a furniture store, Barb and Star decide to leave their hometown of Soft Rock, Neb., for the first time and take a trip to Vista Del Mar, Fla., in an effort to recapture their youth. There, they meet and become entangled with Edgar (Jamie Dornan, “Fifty Shades of Grey”), who is in town at the bidding of his unnamed lover and evil boss (also played by Wiig in what sort of looks like a Sia cosplay). She has tasked Edgar with killing all the inhabitants of Vista Del Mar with a swarm of deadly mosquitoes, carrying out her decades-old plan for revenge on the city that wronged her during her childhood. The film oscillates between best friend getaway and spy movie parody before the two inevitably intersect at Vista Del Mar’s annual Seafood Jam.

The central plot doesn’t make any sense, and neither do many of the other narrative choices made in the movie. From a few “how the hell did they get (insert famous person here)?” cameos, to Dornan singing a Lonely-Island-meets-George-Michael pop ballad on the beach, to a drug-induced dance montage set to a dubstep remix of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” the movie validates and runs with every one of Mumolo and Wiig’s (who are also the film’s screenwriters) comedic impulses. It’s refreshing to watch something so harmlessly indulgent, something that will use the terms “tit-flapper” and “soul douche” repeatedly just because they’re funny. There’s an immaturity to the writing that might inspire a few eye rolls, but hints of intelligence and forethought come out through every joke’s payoff.

If “Barb and Star” has to have a point or some bigger takeaway, it might be that friendship is powerful and necessary to stay sane, but even that feels like forcing a pretentious conclusion on what is simply a fun, dumb 107-minute viewing experience. Deep friendship is central to the story, though — Barb and Star are obsessed with each other in the way that only best friends can be. Mumolo and Wiig’s real-life friendship and the efficacy of their writing partnership (they also wrote 2011’s “Bridesmaids” together) comes through in their interactions on screen. 

They are both everyone’s middle-aged aunt — caricatures with teased hair and brightly colored culottes — but also their own entities, with Mumolo and Wiig imbuing them with enough specificity that their characters aren’t simply broad parodies. Together, the friendship they create is sort of enviable; Barb and Star live and work together but still never get tired of each other. They trust each other completely, hype each other up (“You could model for effing Chicos. Or Costco. The Kirkland brand!”) and can spend the entirety of a long flight narrating the life story of an imaginary woman named Trish (because “a woman named Trish is a woman you can count on”). 

“Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” accomplishes exactly what it sets out to. It provides a thoughtless but delightful escape into a better world, where everything is bright and anyone can be everyone’s friend, and it never tries to be anything more than what it is. It’s well worth visiting; just make sure you bring your culottes.

Daily Arts Contributor Katrina Stebbins can be reached at