I’m not quite sure who the intended audience is for The Guilt Trip. It’s not really a good date movie or girls/guys night out movie. So that basically leaves Barbra Streisand fans or Seth Rogen fans. And I highly doubt they overlap.
So what’s the link between Streisand and Rogen? They play a mother/son duo in a road trip comedy, which has some funny moments, but not nearly enough to make this a flick to run out and see.
Show of hands, how many adult sons are itching to take a road trip across the country with their mom (do I hear crickets chirping)?
Well it’s not exactly Andy Brewster’s (Rogen) idea of a great time either, but while visiting his widowed New Jersey mom he learns that a long lost love of hers lives in San Francisco. Andy, an inventor about to embark on a road trip to meet with companies interested in his product, throws caution to the wind and invites mom, Joyce (Streisand), to come along on his 3,000-mile road trip.
Mom and son have lots of adventures on the road—driving an econobox rental car through a snowstorm in Tennessee (a perfect opportunity for Andy to point out to Mom that they should have rented the SUV), stopping at a strip club (insert awkward jokes here about a certain male organ), a hotel clerk mistaking the mother/son for a May/December romance, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stop at the Grand Canyon and gambling all night in a Vegas casino.
But by far the movie’s most memorable moments came during the scene with Joyce chowing down on a 50 oz. steak and assorted side items at a Texas restaurant. This is when sparks fly between Joyce and a cute cowboy, which almost makes you hope she’ll tell her son to go on without her so she can get to know the cowboy a little better.
But that doesn’t happen and predictably, Andy gets sick of Mom’s unsolicited advice and mom gets sick of her ungrateful son, which leads to a big blow up and eventual make up.
The Guilt Trip is not exactly that award-winning performance the studio may have thought it was from Streisand, but it’s still nice to her back on the big screen looking at least 10 years younger than she really is (70 years old!). Streisand’s last starring role was back in 1996 with The Mirror Has Two Faces, though she played a supporting role in Meet the Fockers (2004) and Little Fockers (2010).
As for Seth Rogen—many people find him either funny or annoying. I lean toward annoying. His character is a scientist/inventor trying to sell a cleaning product, but I didn’t quite buy into him as that kind of guy. He’s better/less annoying as the slacker type of character he’s played in the past.
Writer Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love) drew from his own experiences going on a trip with his mom and it feels like a lovingly told story. Moms are annoying (apparently because they lick their finger to smooth a stray hair on your head and bug you about dating), but they are also wise and should be appreciated.
Movie Grade: B-
Author’s note: This is my last “At the Movies” column for the Northeast Times. It has truly been a joy to write for the readers of the Northeast Times for almost seven years. I hope you’ll follow me over to my new website, senitrawatchesmovies.com, where I’ll continue writing weekly movie reviews.