Guilt Trip

Oh, Mother.

Main Cast: Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand

Director: Anne Fletcher

Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand.  That is not my dream team.  I’ve never been a big fan of Streisand and Rogen has been so overexposed that even hearing his voice grates on me.  So why would I watch Guilt Trip – 100% a vehicle for these two actors?  Because I have to admit that I like the premise.  And it’s a stupid premise.  Sometimes I can’t help myself.

Guilt Trip is about an overbearing mother traveling with her adult son.  He is terrifically sick of her meddling, does not tell her the truth about either his professional or personal life and is generally irritated by her very existence.  Yet he invites her along on his cross country business venture, trying to sell his eco-friendly cleaning product to chain store giants.  Hilarity ensues.  See?  I told you it was stupid.  But there’s something about Barbra Streisand annoying the living daylights out of Seth Rogen that thrilled my evil little heart.  It also felt like a chance to learn a few lessons for my future role as meddling mother.

Guilt Trip is not a great movie.  It’s formulaic (so by definition predictable). The actors do not have to stretch even a tiny little Barbra Streisand by lifescript bit.  It isn’t particularly funny.  Seth Rogen is annoying.  But I didn’t hate it.  There is a certain charm to Streisand’s Joyce Brewster.  She’s stereotypical, irritating and silly, but she has a little bit of depth as a character and Streisand runs with her unexpected quirks, making her a fairly likable mother of an adult jerk.

And Rogen’s Andrew Brewster is indeed a jerk.  He’s selfish, ungrateful, rude or childish, depending on the moment.  Sometimes all at once.  I did hate his character and was glad to see his mother set him straight a few times after putting up with his nonsense for hundreds of miles just on the off chance that he might want to spend some time with her.

Seth Rogen by Angela GeorgeNow it could be that writer Dan Fogelman and director Anne Fletcher just struck a chord in me as the mother of a young adult son.  I would happily own that – the notion that someday I would be that annoying mother that made her son’s eyes roll 24/7.  But my son actually liked it too – thought it was cute.  So I feel a little bit vindicated.  The level where Guilt Trip works is in the mother’s owning and embracing of her past, and the son’s coming to appreciate his mother as a person with history, not just an embarrassing maternal weight around his neck. The rest is just occasionally a little bit amusing filler amounting to Rogen doing his usual (old and tired) schtick while Streisand wastes her talent.

Overall, I rather enjoyed Guilt Trip, but recognize that it isn’t a good movie and that only a small splinter audience who is sick of Rogen and might someday take a cross country trip with their son could possibly enjoy it.  Two stars out of five and a recommendation only for anyone who is exactly like me.

photos by lifescript and Angela George

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