The Guilt Trip is a guiltless pleasure

Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand in "The Guilt Trip"

It may be hard for Andy Brewster to be trapped in a car for eight days with his mom Joyce, but for viewers, his ‘Guilt Trip’ is all laughs.


We’ve all seen our fill of buddy comedies over the years with the buddies being in various situations, from the cops of 48 Hours to the boozing friends of The Hangover. And they all pretty much have the same formula: friends are put together for some reason, friends go on some kind of journey, friends get on each others’ last nerve and hate each other, friends learn a lesson, friends are best buds by the time the credits roll.

And The Guilt Trip is really no different … except the “buddies” this time around are a mother and son played by Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. Probably one of the more unlikely pairings ever committed to film. The plot of the movie is pretty simple: Andy has developed a revolutionary new cleaning product and he’s taking a cross country trip to various retailers to see if he can pitch his cleaner and land an account. His mother Joyce is the typical cinematic Jewish mother, wondering when Andy is going to get married while still buying him underwear from The Gap, much to his chagrin. Except Joyce has a bit of a secret – she was in love with another man while she was dating Andy’s father, but the guy never wanted a committed relationship, so she married her second choice … and she named her son after her first true love.

Of course, this revelation hits Andy like a ton of bricks, but instead of completely freaking out about it, he tracks the guy down, finds out he’s single and living in San Francisco, so he plans an extra stop on his sales pitch tour, and invites Joyce to tag along … without telling her why. Joyce thinks her son just wants to spend eight days with her driving across country and she’s thrilled. Of course, comedy, drama, and an emotional end to the journey are all in place but the witty script and mahvelous performances from Streisand – like buttah – and Rogen help rise the film above the clichés.

I love Streisand when she’s funny, so to see her flexing her comedic muscles once again is a treat.

I love Streisand when she’s funny. One of my all time favorite comedies is What’s Up, Doc?, so to see Barbra flexing her comedic muscles once again – and let’s just all forget about Little Fockers – and looking fabulous to boot, is a real treat. She plays the neurotic mother who won’t go on a date because she doesn’t want to give up eating M&Ms in bed, who dotes on a son she thinks went to school in California to get away from her, who considers her best friend a therapist, who always has a wise word of advice (even though Andy is too headstrong to hear anything she says), who loves her son no matter how badly he treats her, to perfection. And the woman can put away a steak too!

Rogen is perfect as the uptight science nerd who refuses to listen to any advice regarding the name of his product, Scieoclean, the color of the label, or his terrible marketing pitch, and is incredibly uptight around his free-spirited mom who likes to discuss his penis and listen to a sexy romance novel CD (which she insists on calling a “book on tape”) while they drive across country. The two play perfectly off each other and it’s almost like Ryan O’Neal (the nerd) and Barbra (the free-spirit) together again in What’s Up, Doc? No matter how good a script might be, a good comedy really depends on good chemistry between the leads, and Streisand and Rogen have that chemistry.

The script manages to be pretty funny even while following the buddy comedy formula.

Some familiar faces pop up along their journey including Kathy Najimy, Miriam Margolyes, Casey Wilson, Brett Cullen, Yvonne Strahovski, Colin Hanks, Nora Dunn, and Adam Scott – all in single scene roles. The majority of the film features unknowns who lend a bit more authenticity to the journey. The script manages to be pretty funny even while following the buddy comedy formula, but the twist at the end was a surprise and made the whole trip even more meaningful. In the end, Andy and Joyce have learned things about themselves and each other during their travels that strengthens their relationship, and will have you smiling as you leave the theater.


Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

2 Comments on “The Guilt Trip is a guiltless pleasure

  1. I prefer nice young Jewish actors like Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Andrew Garfield, etc.

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