‘The Guilt Trip’ struggles to find its audience

Seth Ro­gen and Bar­bra Streis­and star in the road trip com­edy ‘The Guilt Trip.’


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.

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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