Written by / 1/01/2013 / No comments / , , ,

THE GUILT TRIP

year: 2012 cast: Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen rating: ***1/2
Following the path of TRAINS, PLANES, AND AUTOMOBILES and its recent imitation DUE DATE, one would expect, with the pairing of a put-upon son and his dotting mother, that THE GUILT TRIP would attempt a joke-a-minute style adventure with tons of arguing, misunderstandings, and highway hijinx (i.e. what the trailers implied). Surprisingly enough, this is a very laidback road movie about a wannabe inventor named Andy Brewster embarking on a cross-country trip with his semi neurotic mom, Joyce – Barbra Streisand’s return to the silver screen in a starring role after many years: It takes a good twenty minutes before hitting the road, learning about our mother/son duo, both idly hanging around mom's East Coast house. Single guy Andy is trying to sell his environmentally safe cleaning fluid, while Joyce only wants him to find true love. After she shares about the original love of her life – a guy she’d met before his father (who died when he was eight), Andy surreptitiously locates the man’s location in San Francisco and plans the trip so mom can reconnect with her former flame (something she’s unaware of).

This alone keeps the viewer intrigued through a string of off-road situations: the car breaking down outside a strip bar and a Las Vegas visit sound more promising than they turn out to be. One scene in Texas has Joyce eating a four-pound steak for a prize, and there's an assortment of eclectic characters along the way. Yet the most entertaining scenes involve Andy’s failed attempts to sell his product to perplexed businessmen in various stuffy stopovers.   

Both Rogen and Streisand have a breezy chemistry and really seem to know each other – maybe too well. The moments where both are stuck in the very small car, headed across America, whiz along in montage sequences, never allowing the audience to feel as claustrophobic and/or frustrated as Rogen, who’s a bit too whiny and negative while Babs isn’t annoying enough to cause any real sparks (or anti-magnetism) between them. And yet, by the end of this mellow trip you’ll feel that at least the characters benefited from the journey: they’re both genuinely likable for that alone to count for something.
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