Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Lionsgate;
Comedy;
$19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for crude sexual content, drug use and some strong language.
Stars Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr., Michael Hitchcock, Reyn Doi, Vanessa Bayer, Wendi McLendon-Covey.

If there were a way to turn pastels directly into a movie, Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar would probably be it.

“Golden Girls” meets “Austin Powers” in this zany comedy in which Kristen Wiig (as Star) and Annie Mumolo (as Barb) play a pair of daft Midwestern middle-aged roommates who breeze through life until deciding on a whim to embark on a vacation to Florida.

The “coming of middle-age” story, as described by director Josh Greenbaum, was co-written by Wiig and Mumolo as well, apparently based on inside jokes that developed during their own year’s long real life friendship, and characters who began to crystalize as they were collaborating on 2011’s Bridesmaids. Wiig even admits in the bonus materials that they thought up the title first and then came up with a story to fit it (to the degree that a story even matters to this movie).

Barb & Star plays like the movie version of an “SNL” sketch that never existed. The duo find themselves out of work when they learn the furniture store chain they work for closed down months ago, and no one bothered to tell anyone at their franchise to pack it in. So, with nary a care in the world, they depart their small Nebraska town for a resort community in Florida called Vista Del Mar, and run smack dab into the middle of a plot to destroy the town by an albino villain who seems like she’s on loan from Dr. Evil’s crew.

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This baddie, also played by Wiig, wants revenge on Vista Del Mar for embarrassing her during a shrimp festival years earlier, so she plans to unleash genetically engineered mosquitos to kill everyone. To prepare the attack, she sends her supposed lover, Edgar (Jamie Dornan), but things go off the rails when he encounters Barb and Star and engages in a drug-fueled sexual tryst with them that completely changes his worldview.

But really, the heart of the movie is Wiig and Mumolo, and they’re willing to throw everything at the wall for the sake of comedy. From improvised dialogue to musical numbers to shameless celebrity cameos to talking crabs who dispense sage advice with a voice that sounds like Morgan Freeman, the film isn’t afraid to try anything for a laugh. And for the most part, it works. The actors are charming, the gags are witty and unexpected, and the film just radiates lighthearted fun with every colorful setting.

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Mumolo and Wiig join Greenbaum for a delightful Blu-ray commentary track in which they discuss the making of the film and how fun it was to finally bring these characters to life.

Also included on the Blu-ray are nine deleted scenes that have a total run time of just under 13 minutes. These are basically just extra bits of comedy from the ladies, as is the six-minute blooper reel. There’s also a weird minute-and-a-half “Fashion Show” video featuring several characters from the film prancing around a fake beach in different outfits.

The making of the film is covered in two featurettes: the 10-minute “Barb & Star: Making Life a Little Brighter” is about the overall production, while the 11-minute “Barb & Star: Casting in Paradise” looks at the film’s various characters.

A Target-exclusive Blu-ray offers a few additional featurettes if anyone is so inclined for more.

 

Unrated ‘Saw’ Coming to 4K May 11

Lionsgate will release the 2004 horror film Saw on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc for the first time May 11.

The film marked the directorial debut of James Wan (The Conjuring, Aquaman) and stars Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Michael Emerson, Tobin Bell and Leigh Whannell (who co-wrote the film) in the story of a morally obsessed serial killer who forces his victims to play horrific games of torture and survival.

Saw went on to spawn a franchise of eight films, with a ninth, Spiral, due May 14.

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The Saw 4K combo pack will include the unrated version of the film on 4K with Dolby Vision, as well as a standard Blu-ray Disc and digital copy.

Blu-ray and 4K special features include the featurette “Game Changer: The Legacy of Saw; an audio commentary with Wan, Whannell and Elwes; and a commentary with producers Mark Burg, Gregg Hoffman and Oren Koules. Additional extras on the Blu-ray Disc include the original Saw short film, an alternate storyboard sequence, the film’s theatrical trailer, and the featurette “Hacking Away at Saw.”

 

Merchandising: ‘Barb & Star’ Go to Target

The light slate of new releases April 6 didn’t attract much interest in the way of retail exclusives, but Target did offer one for Lionsgate’s Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.

The Target-exclusive Blu-ray edition of the comedy came with lenticular box art and additional bonus materials: the featurettes “Reason #497 Why We’re Friends,” “The Visionary Sets of Barb & Star” and “Emotional Dancing With Jamie Dornan.” It was priced at $17.99, the same price as the regular Blu-ray.

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Savvy shoppers could also take advantage of a backdoor discount at Target involving Lionsgate’s World War II thriller Shadow in the Cloud, which was priced at $29.99 on Blu-ray at the chain (at least, in the stores that bothered to restock their home entertainment sections with the week’s new titles). The Target circle app gives a 15% discount on the title, but Target also has a policy to match prices of its competitors, one of which is Walmart, which listed the Shadow in the Cloud Blu-ray online for $14.96. So with the new priced keyed in, a 5% discount for Target Redcard users, and the 15% discount on the title still applicable, the final price comes to under $13. Not bad.

Best Buy used the week to push a number of themed promotions, including a tie-in to Oscar season with a sale on movies that won Awards over the years.

 

 

Benedict Cumberbatch Thriller ‘The Courier’ Coming to PVOD April 16

The Benedict Cumberbatch thriller The Courier will come out via premium VOD rental April 16 from Lionsgate.

The film is currently in theaters.

In this true-life Cold War spy thriller, unassuming British businessman Greville Wynne (Cumberbatch) becomes entangled in one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Recruited by MI6 and a CIA operative (Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe winner Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Wynne forms a covert partnership with Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), and both men risk everything in a danger-fraught race against time to provide the intelligence needed to prevent nuclear confrontation and end the Cuban Missile Crisis.

TV Time: Warner’s ‘Mortal Kombat’ Most Anticipated Movie in April

Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat was the most anticipated movie in April on the TV Time chart.

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, the film follows Shaolin Monk Liu Kang, from Earth, who gets invited as a competitor in a mysterious, intergalactic tournament of ancient martial arts. It premieres April 23 in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streaming service.

A Whip Media company, TV Time is a free TV viewership tracking app that tracks consumers’ viewing habits worldwide and is visited by nearly 1 million consumers every day, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, premiering on Amazon Prime April 30, took the second spot on the chart. The action thriller is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Tom Clancy and is a spin-off of the Jack Ryan film series.

Coming in at No. 3 was Netflix’s Thunder Force, premiering April 9 on the streaming service. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spenser and Jason Bateman, the film follows two childhood best friends who reunite as an unlikely crime-fighting superhero duo when one invents a formula that gives ordinary people superpowers.

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Also from Netflix, Stowaway, premiering April 22, took the fourth spot on the chart. In the film starring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Collette, a three-person crew on a mission to Mars faces an impossible choice when an unplanned passenger jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board.

Another space story, Lionsgate’s Voyagers, landed at No. 5. Starring Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Lily-Rose Depp and Fionn Whitehead, the film follows a crew of astronauts on a multi-generational mission who descend into paranoia and madness, not knowing what is real or not. It hits theaters April 9.

Rounding out the chart at No. 6 was Concrete Cowboy, which began streaming on Netflix April 2. Starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin (“Stranger Things”), it follows a rebellious teen, sent to live with his estranged father for the summer, who finds kinship in a tight-knit Philadelphia community of Black cowboys.

 Most Anticipated April Movies

  1. Mortal Kombat – April 23 (Warner Bros., theaters and HBO Max)
  2. Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse – April 30 (Amazon Prime)
  3. Thunder Force – April 9 (Netflix)
  4. Stowaway – April 22 (Netflix)
  5. Voyagers – April 9 (Lionsgate, theaters)
  6. Concrete Cowboy – April 2 (Netflix)

 

TV Time features a global community of 16 million users who have reported more than 18 billion views of TV and movie content across 230,000 titles.

Oscar Nominee ‘Minari’ Coming to Disc May 18

Six-time Oscar nominee Minari will debut on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (plus digital) May 18 from Lionsgate.

The film, which won the best foreign-language film Golden Globe, the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and two Critics Choice Awards, follows a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother.

Minari stars Academy Award nominee Steven Yeun (2020, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Minari), Yeri Han (TV’s “My Unfamiliar Family,” “Nokdu Flower,” Worst Woman)Critics Choice Award winner Alan Kim (2021, Best Young Actor, Minari), Noel Kate Cho, Academy Award nominee Yuh-jung Youn (2020, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Minari), and Will Patton (TV’s “Falling Skies,” Halloween, TV’s “Swamp Thing”).

The film was also nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Lee Isaac Chung), Best Screenplay (Chung) and Best Original Score.

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Special features include deleted scenes, the featurette “Sowing Seeds: Making Minari,” and audio commentary with writer-director Chung and actress Yuh-jung Youn.

‘Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar,’ ‘Shadow in the Cloud’ Lead April 6 Home Video Releases

A pair of Lionsgate releases, Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar and Shadow in the Cloud, top a modest slate of titles debuting on disc April 6, while Paramount’s Assault on VA-33 arrives for digital purchase.

Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar, from co-stars and co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids), arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD following a March 26 digital sellthrough release. The film debuted on PVOD Feb. 12. The comedy follows lifelong friends Barb and Star, who embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time ever. The trip includes romance, friendship and a villain’s evil plot. The film also stars Jamie Dornan, Damon Wayans Jr., Fortune Feimster, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Abdoo, Vanessa Bayer, Phyllis Smith and Kwame Patterson.

Also new on Blu-ray and DVD April 6 from Lionsgate is Shadow in the Cloud. The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a World War II flight officer on a secret mission when her bomber is attacked by gremlins. The film was previously available on disc as a Redbox-exclusive rental from Vertical Entertainment.

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RLJE Films and Shudder April 6 presents the Blu-ray and DVD of horror film The Reckoning, starring Charlotte Kirk, Joe Anderson, Steven Waddington and Sean Pertwee. The film was directed by Neil Marshall, who co-wrote the film alongside Kirk (making her feature screenwriting debut) and Edward Evers-Swindell. After losing her husband during the Great Plague, Grace Haverstock (Kirk) is unjustly accused of being a witch and placed in the custody of England’s most ruthless witch-hunter, Judge Moorcroft (Pertwee). Forced to endure physical and emotional torture while steadfastly maintaining her innocence, Grace must face her own inner demons as the Devil himself starts to work his way into her mind.

In the thriller Assault on VA-33, available digitally from Paramount Home Entertainment and Saban Films, Sean Patrick Flanery stars as a decorated Army veteran fighting terrorists who invade is local VA hospital. It was released in select theaters April 2. Directed by Christopher Ray, the film also stars Rob Van Dam, Weston Cage Coppola, Gina Holden, Mark Dacascos and Michael Jai White.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

HBO Max Orders Female Erotica Comedy Series ‘MINX’ From Lionsgate

HBO Max April 5 announced it has ordered 10 episodes of the half-hour comedy “MINX.” Set in 1970s Los Angeles, the series centers on an earnest young feminist (Ophelia Lovibond), who joins forces with a low-rent publisher (Jake Johnson) to create the first erotic magazine for women. The series is from showrunner Ellen Rapoport, Feigco Entertainment and Lionsgate Television.

Ophelia Lovibond

Other cast members include Jake Johnson (“New Girl,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”), who was previously announced as a guest star. Other series regulars include Idara Victor (“Shameless,” “Turn”), Jessica Lowe (“Wrecked,” “Tacoma PD,” “Blended”), Lennon Parham (“Bless this Mess,” “Playing House,” HBO’s “Veep”), Michael Angarano (Emmy-nominated for “This Is Us,” “I’m Dying Up Here,” “The Knick”) and Oscar Montoya (“Reno 911,” “Bless the Harts,” host of “Spanish Aquí Presents” podcast).

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Rapoport executive produces the series alongside Paul Feig (“Freaks and Geeks”) and Dan Magnante for Feigco Entertainment. Rachel Lee Goldenberg directed and executive produced the pilot. Lionsgate Television is the studio. Feigco and Lionsgate Television previously partnered with HBO Max on “Love Life,” which was renewed for a second season. Lionsgate is also producing “Santa Inc.” and “Julia” for Max.

Jake Johnson

“We are so excited about this series, which is fun, feminist and wholly unique,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said in a statement.

Rapoport thanked Feigco, Lionsgate and Max for seeing the potential in this story from the first time “I showed up in their offices with stacks of ’70s porn magazines.”

Feig said he and the production company fell in love with Rapoport’s trunkful of male nudie magazines and her “amazing vision for this funny and liberating” TV series.

“The second we heard it and knew we needed a bold network partner to let us bring it to the screen as honestly as possible … we couldn’t be more thrilled to be back in business with HBO Max,” Feig said.

 

Lionsgate Slavery Docuseries ‘The 1619 Project’ to Bow on Hulu

Lionsgate has tapped filmmaker Roger Ross Williams to produce and oversee a documentary series based on materials drawn from The New York Times Magazine and Nikole Hannah-Jones’ article “The 1619 Project,” slated to debut in the U.S. on Hulu as part of a distribution agreement between Lionsgate and Disney General Entertainment Content’s BIPOC Creator Initiative led by Tara Duncan.

The 1619 Project, the accuracy of which was subsequently disputed by a number of historians, claimed slavery was such a central aspect of U.S. history that it carries over into racism that endures today. It was launched in August 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies that would become the United States. It examines the legacy of slavery in America and argues it shaped nearly all aspects of society, from music and law to education and the arts, and the principles of our democracy itself.

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Williams will direct the first episode and produce the series with co-executive producer Geoff Martz in collaboration with Lionsgate Television, The New York Times and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films. Williams is the first African-American director to win an Academy Award, for his short film Music by Prudence. Other projects include the Emmy Award-winning documentaries Life, Animated and The Apollo; God Loves Uganda; American Jail; and the Emmy-nominated, Webby Award-winning virtual reality experience Traveling While Black.

“Our most cherished ideals and achievements cannot be understood without acknowledging both systemic racism and the contributions of Black Americans,” Williams said. “And this isn’t just about the past — Black people are still fighting against both the legacy of this racism and its current incarnation.”

Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning journalist Shoshana Guy will serve as showrunner. Guy most recently was showrunner for Vice TV’s late-night series “Cari and Jemele: Won’t Stick to Sports.” She spent more than a decade as an anchor producer for Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams at NBC News. Her work at NBC focused on issues of race and justice, including coverage of the defunding of the Camden Police Department, which earned her a Peabody Award. Her work has also been recognized with two Emmy nominations for her coverage of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and her in-depth reporting on a year in the life of black high school students in Jackson, Miss.

Kathleen Lingo, editorial director for film and TV at The New York Times, will also executive produce for The Times.

Oprah Winfrey, Lionsgate and The New York Times announced the wide-ranging partnership to develop “The 1619 Project” into an expansive portfolio of feature films, television series and other content for a global audience in July 2020.

“It takes content as special as The 1619 Project to bring singular talents like Roger Ross Williams, Nikole Hannah-Jones and Oprah Winfrey together, and we’re delighted to partner with our friends at Disney and Hulu to share this compelling story with a global audience,” said Alice Dickens-Koblin, SVP and head of alternative programming at Lionsgate.

“[The story] has helped frame our understanding of U.S. history and contemporary society, elevating an under-reported, systemic story of vital importance,” added Kelly Campbell, president of Hulu. “We’re honored to be the exclusive streaming home to this transformative documentary series along with our partners at The New York Times, Lionsgate Television and Harpo Films.”

Lionsgate Selling Stake in Pantaya Spanish-Language SVOD

Lionsgate is selling its 75% stake in Spanish-language subscription streaming VOD platform Pantaya to joint-venture partner Hemisphere Media Group for $124 million.

Lionsgate and Hemisphere, the latter targeting the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets with broadcast, cable television and digital content platforms, launched Pantaya in 2017 as the first Spanish-language over-the-top video service in the U.S. The $5.99 monthly platform ended the most-recent fiscal period with 900,000 subscribers. Hemisphere estimates the sub base will grow to 2.5-3 million by the end of 2025.

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“We’re very proud to have helped build Pantaya into the leading premium Spanish-language platform in the U.S., and Hemisphere is the right owner to continue their growth and success,” Lionsgate COO Brian Goldsmith said in a statement. “We look forward to an even more robust strategic content relationship among Lionsgate, Starzplay and Pantaya that benefits Pantaya’s continued ascendancy.”

Pantaya CEO Paul Presburger, who remains in charge of the service, said the platform increased its subscription base by 40% in 2020.

“We believe we have significant runway for additional expansion ahead,” he said.

With its Starz brand, including SVOD versions in internationally such as Starzplay and Lionsgate Play, Lionsgate is looking to focus streaming resources and investment internally. The studio/distributor will continue with a broad strategic content relationship between Starzplay, Hemisphere and Pantaya going forward, according to company officials.