The Big Picture
- Jamie Dornan’s Edgar is a precursor to Ryan Gosling’s iconic Ken performance in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie.
- The similarities between Barbieland and the Vista Del Mar Hotel are striking, with both films featuring utopian settings, beach scenes, mermaids, and bright colors.
- Jamie Dornan’s role as Edgar in Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar echoes Ken’s infatuation with Barbie, and both characters have memorable satirical musical numbers that showcase their insecurities.
Greta Gerwig may have blessed cinephiles around the world with both Barbie and her official 33-film watchlist of influences, but fans of the pandemic-era classic Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar will notice its curious absence, especially when Jamie Dornan’s Edgar appears to be the ultimate precursor to Ryan Gosling’s now-iconic Ken performance. That’s not to say that Dornan’s Edgar was some kind of prototype, as both turn in absolutely show-stopping performances that blow any other cinematic himbos out of the water. Rather, Dornan seems to have cracked the Ken formula two years before Gosling did in one of the best comedies of its year.
Released in 2021, it’s safe to say that those who saw Barb & Star had a much more cheerful pandemic experience than the rest, but now with Barbie out in 2023, let’s look back and see just how influential this underrated comedy gem really proves to be. Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar (if the Academy Awards gave out awards for the best movie titles, this would sweep) is written by and stars Kristen Wiig as Star and Annie Mumolo as Barb, the titular heroines and lifelong friends who, after losing their job, decide to embark on an absolutely magical journey to the Vista Del Mar Hotel in Florida, awakening their suppressed passions while uncovering a crazy supervillain scheme that could mean death to the entire town’s population. Helmed by Strays director Josh Greenbaum, this isn’t Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris as much as it is Melissa McCarthy’s Spy coupled with the musical intensity of The Blues Brothers. Add Dornan’s “Himbo of the Year” performance and you’ve got yourself a winning recipe.
‘Barbie’ and ‘Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar’ Have a Lot in Common
If Margot Robbie’s Barbie left Barbieland and found herself in the Barb & Star universe rather than our own, she would have had no problem adjusting at all! The similarities between Barbieland and the Vista Del Mar Hotel are positively striking, with Barb & Star’s Florida setting almost acting as a mirror to the Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse. Guests are greeted with flashy musical numbers flaunting the resort’s utopia and selling the dream of a never-ending vacation. The color palettes of both films are drenched in heteronormative hues of pink and blue that brightly pop to create a serene, childlike environment. Obviously, one couldn’t claim their similarities without mentioning that both feature plenty of beach, and if that’s still not enough, both films feature appearances from mermaids! This accounts for barely half of the surreal elements of Barb & Star, but it’s Jamie Dornan’s role that really cements this modern classic as the perfect Barbie companion.
Who Is Jamie Dornan’s Edgar in ‘Barb & Star‘?
Barb & Star features one of the most left-of-field cold opens in modern film history, opening the film not through playful interactions between its lovable fast-talking BFF heroines, but through the introduction of an evil high-tech supervillain lair situated under a fake tree. That’s not to say that the film peaks early, but that it drops you right into the heart of its own internal insanity. Dornan plays Edgar, the lair’s primary lackey, whose sole ambition is to finally become an “official couple” with his boss, Sharon Fisherman (also Kristen Wiig). Edgar is obsessed with a woman who doesn’t want him, but unfortunately for him, unlike Barbie, Sharon manipulates him to her every advantage.
The relationship echoes Ken’s own infatuation with Barbie, as well as his insecurity about the lack of identity he has separate from her. “I only exist within the warmth of your gaze,” Ken tells Barbie. Meanwhile, Edgar’s reading a book called How to Know the Person You Love Loves You Even Though They Don’t Act Like It Most of the Time, while Sharon is reading How to Convince Someone You Love Them When You Don’t, To Get Them To Do What You Want, a gag that would fit perfectly into the Barbie universe if Barbie herself was a homicidal evil genius. Both love-obsessed roles speak to the respective actors’ roles as Hollywood hunks, with Jamie Dornan spoofing his Mr. Grey persona exceptionally well. Just like the stars of Magic Mike XXL, they both use their idealized masculinity to ridicule themselves, proving that in spite of their Hollywood standing, they’re individually two of the best comedic actors working.
Jamie Dornan and Ryan Gosling Have Similar Musical Numbers
Labeling the roles of Edgar and Ken as so similar would have been a slight stretch, if not for the fact that both bring the house down with two joyously satirical musical numbers as they vent their characters’ every frustration. For Ryan Gosling, “I’m Just Ken” confirmed his chops as one of Hollywood’s most varied musical performers, ensuring that he’s remembered well after audiences leave the multiplex for its extremely catchy nature and all of the visual panache. For all of his woes, he just wants to be “Kenough,” not just to Barbie but to himself. Now say hello again to Edgar, who almost identically regurgitates his insecurities for the lack of love in his life with a song aptly titled “Edgar’s Prayer.” It’s at once catchy, meta, ironic, hilarious, and a music video you never thought you would always need.
Barb & Star’s Edgar and Barbie’s Ken are both characters that embody a recent trend of subversion. Hollywood storytelling is finally offering fresh takes on decades-old tropes. The tried and worn damsel in distress roles are now being played by ridiculously good-looking men, while portrayals of toxic masculinity (once much more common and uncriticized) are now treated with a layer of understanding for what the character might be using that toxicity to shield themself from. Edgar and Ken’s similarities don’t necessarily come from the fact that they’re both hopelessly in love, but the fact that they’re both hopelessly insecure, a state of mind that they spend their entire arcs trying to rectify. While yes, both films are wildly similar in character and tone, to say that Dornan walked so Gosling could run would be doing “Edgar’s Prayer” an unforgivable disservice. Jamie Dornan flew. Ryan Gosling just soared.
Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar is available to rent on Prime Video in the U.S.
Rent on Prime Video
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
- Release Date
- February 12, 2021
- Josh Greenbaum
- Jamie Dornan, Kristen Wiig, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Michael Hitchcock, Damon Wayans Jr., Annie Mumolo
- 107 minutes
- Main Genre
- Comedy, Fantasy
- Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig
- The friendship we all want. The vacation we all need.
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