Has it really been a decade since Bridesmaids turned comedy filmmaking on its head? The 2011 film, written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo and starring Wiig as a woman whose life is disorganized by the wedding of her best friend (Maya Rudolph), was a complete hit: while putting the female ensemble at the center The global box office grossed more than $ 288 million as a slippery R-rated romp took place and a conversation was initiated about the role of women in comedy. Bridesmaids helped get Wiig out of the Saturday Night Live cast and earned her and Mumolo an Oscar nomination for their script.
Instead of immediately reappearing in a follow-up collaboration, the two long-time friends have since been seen in individual projects: Wiig has appeared in films such as “The Martian”, “The Skeleton Twins” and “Wonder Woman 1984″, while Mumolo has appeared in comedies such as ” Bad Moms “and” This Is 40. “
But Wiig and Mumolo did not take a vacation from their partnership. They also spent several years on a new movie, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, which will receive a video-on-demand release from Lionsgate on February 12th. Written by Wiig and Mumolo and directed by Josh Greenbaum, “Barb and Star” casts the title characters, a pair of well-meaning, if blissfully clueless Midwesterners, whose trip to a luxury resort takes them unexpectedly into a ridiculous life-and-death adventure offset.
Compared to the more in-depth comedy of “Bridesmaids,” Wiig and Mumolo said in a recent video interview, they wanted “Barb and Star” to reflect a free-running and more farcical spirit. That sensitivity was found in the sketches they made for the Groundlings, the Los Angeles performance troupe they met in, and in the films that influenced them in their youth such as “Airplane!” and “Top Secret!”
“Stupid is sometimes underestimated,” said Wiig. “It’s fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
Mumolo added, “Our heads were there for several years – because it took so long to finish the film.”
Wiig and Mumolo went on to discuss the making of “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” as it emerged from “Bridesmaids” and their affection for the middle-aged characters they portray. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Did your friendship and partnership begin with the Groundlings?
ANNIE MUMOLO Kristen and I had great success there. We just had a very similar sense of humor. I loved texting with her from minute 1.
KRISTEN WIIG We were definitely interested in characters from the middle-aged empire. It was almost an afterthought years later when we thought, wow, all of our characters are middle aged women who have crazy wigs.
MUMOLO They’re invisible and underrepresented in movies and on TV, but they felt very real to us. The woman who worked behind the desk at my father’s dental office was obsessed with Fabio and entered a competition to win a ski trip with Fabio.
Was it difficult to continue working together when Kristen went on Saturday Night Live?
MUMOLO I’ve never told Kristen this before, but I was really sad when she moved away to do Saturday Night Live. Because I missed her.
WIIG [eyes pinkening] Aww.
MUMOLO I felt like oh maybe this was the end of an era even though we had a lot of ideas we wanted to come up with. But I really missed her.
WIIG Oh i missed you But we found each other like long-lost creative lovers. We started writing “Bridesmaids” in my sophomore year there.
Did “Bridesmaids” start with the more absurd humor that we see in “Barb and Star”?
WIIG Oh yeah. There were a few ideas for musical numbers.
MUMOLO Kristen’s very first boss was this woman who was some kind of barb and star. She was obsessed with dolls.
WIIG When we were running around to find Lillian [the bride, played by Maya Rudolph]We’d find a woman lying on the floor. We say, “It’s Lillian – she’s dead!” And then we said, “Oh, wait – it’s not Lillian.” And then we just keep running.
After the success of Bridesmaids, have you just been inundated with offers to write more?
WIIG We had the opportunity to write more and it still felt so new to us. Writing a movie is such a different beast than anything we’ve ever tried before.
MUMOLO Everyone comes to you and says I have a story for you. My life is your next comedy! Our parents had a lot of people who gave them things. My poor father, his patients gave him scripts. He would say what should I tell people?
“Bridesmaids” helped start a conversation about women’s equality in filmmaking, but it also generated a certain amount of backhand: “I didn’t know women could be funny”. Did that surprise you?
MUMOLO We didn’t really know about the perception that women “can’t be funny” until our film was marketed and the question raised in the press. And then it really got hit over the head. It was strange.
WIIG The lack of opportunity for women writers, actresses and filmmakers has always been there. And because it became such a conversation, it was a bit like why is that a thing? Why are we still talking about it? Are we really talking about women being funny?
Was there a point where you knew “Barb and Star” was going to be your sequel to “Bridesmaids”? Did you feel obliged to come back quickly with another film?
WIIG It was never like that, Oh, we should write something soon. This was just happening when Annie and I were kidding, and it was like, oh, maybe we should write something.
MUMOLO The making of “bridesmaids” took five and a half years. It’s almost like being pregnant and giving birth. If you should find out that you were pregnant the day after having a baby, that’s too much. You need this time for your brain to decompress and just live life.
WIIG It is also so much more fun to write when it doesn’t feel like a task. We wrote the first draft [of “Barb and Star”] in a very short time. We just wrote it in a vacuum and thought, is that funny or is that weird? Then we had eight or ten people and read the whole thing over. And we thought, oh maybe we should keep working on it.
Where did the Barb and Star characters come from?
MUMOLO On “Bridesmaids” we wrote scenes for Lillian and her mother [played by Lynne Marie Stewart]and we’d do those runs where mom would only talk about Costco. [Exaggerated Midwestern accent] “I love that, where did you get that beach cape from? It’s out of sight! ““ I got it at Costco! ”But they had nothing to do with anything. It’s grown over the years and it’s funny because the more we talk about it, the more we realize that these characters are a lot , who we are.
WIIG Just the part that we don’t show anyone. The real versions of us if we just talked on the phone together.
Do you admire their relentless ignorance?
WIIG What I love about them is that they just subconsciously filter out what someone thinks about them. You could walk into a room and people could say, you weren’t invited. And they would go and just say, this was a fun party. They just live in that innocent bubble where everything is wonderful and new to them.
MUMOLO I envy how they enjoy the smallest thing – an on-board magazine – when you could just fill it up and take it with you wherever you go.
Was “Barb and Star” designed so that Annie would play a bigger role than in “Bridesmaids”?
WIIG It’s definitely a two-handed one. I’ve always been like this, I need the world to see more Annie. Because she is literally the funniest person I know.
MUMOLO We had a role written for me in “Bridesmaids” as one of the bridesmaids. But because of the process of the film, we’ve been on and off so many times for so many years. I thought I was living my life and I had a family. So I got pregnant. We got some kind of shelf and then they called like two weeks later and said, “We’re back!” And it was like, I’m pregnant. This is going to be great.
WIIG How many months pregnant were you?
MUMOLO I was seven months pregnant when we started shooting and I had my son a week and a half after the diaper. I couldn’t play that role, so we redeveloped and recast it. Now I have my amazing 10 year old son I would just never trade in for it.
How did you come to cast Jamie Dornan as the movie’s love interest?
WIIG We could talk about it for an hour. You just never know when you will cast someone, what it will be like. And then he shows up on the set and we all said, you are amazing.
MUMOLO The first day we met Jamie, we were in our costumes, our wigs and everything and I said, “We have to be your dream women.” And he actually said, “I was really a huge fan of ‘The Golden Girls’ and had a crush on Estelle Getty.” Doesn’t that just make you love a man?
[In an email, Dornan replied: “I loved ‘Golden Girls,’ yep. Didn’t have a crush on Estelle Getty, but she was my favorite character and my friend. I joined an online fan club for her!”]
Was there any particular joy in making a movie set in a lavish beach resort?
WIIG I’ll say it was just very hot. If you’re able to zoom in on a shot we’re outside, we’ll sweat.
MUMOLO There were scenes where we were in the sand looking at each other and we say I just want you to know, I’m going black right now – I can’t see you.
Did you have to do any special training for the scenes where you jet ski?
WIIG It was a version of Annie that I had never seen before. She says: “Hol. Up. “She took control of this thing like she’d been jet-skiing all her life. I was shocked. I held on for my dear life.
MUMOLO That was my favorite for sure. Just flying over the open ocean was pretty exhilarating. Kristen held me screaming.
WIIG I’m afraid of sharks and things that can get me out of the water. I was just very scared.
Was it disappointing for you at all that “Barb and Star”, which was slated for theatrical release, is coming to VOD instead?
WIIG Just for the pure feeling of enjoyment, there is nothing better than watching a comedy in a theater with other people. To be in a room with a group of people who are happy and flee for a minute is like a dream. Of course, we envisioned our film showing in theaters, and this inevitable decision was made for us, not just by the studio, but by the way the world is. We want people to be safe and to be able to see it in their homes, and that’s cool too.
MUMOLO In a strange way, it might actually be so. It feels like a crazy thing now, oh my god, imagine you’re going on a trip? When you think about Barb and Star never leaving their hometown, I feel like I’ve never been away from home.
Have you decided on your next collaboration?
WIIG I will speak for both of us and say that we will always do things together. Who knows what’s next I dont know. But there will be something on the horizon. 10 more years? I dont know [laughter].
MUMOLO We have dreams of taking Barb and Star elsewhere.
WIIG It just needs to rhyme with their names.
MUMOLO We have a rhyming dictionary and a globe.