Release Date: December 19, 2012
Director: Anne Fletcher
Stars: Seth Rogen, Barbara Streisand, Kathy Najimy
Runtime: 95 min
Tagline: Get ready for one mother of a road trip
Around the holiday season, there is usually that one memorable, smart and fresh comedy that everyone is dying to see. Then there’s sometimes a comedy like The Guilt Trip, one feature that isn’t quite as ground breaking or memorable.
Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is an innovative organic chemist who is about to go on the road to sell his product called Scieoclean, a new cleaning product that’s so safe, you can drink it. The credits open to Andy’s mother, Joyce (Barbara Streisand), calling and leaving him about forty-two messages. He stays at her house for a few days, getting prepared for the big road trip. Joyce tells Andy about a boy she knew back when she was a young woman on the prowl; and Andy gets the sudden idea of making these two folks reunite with each other all these years later.
That plan involves inviting her along for the eight-day drive. Along the way, they listen to some nasty audio book, gamble, try to take care of business, run into a conflict or two, and eat a steak the size of a poodle. The majority of which is revealed in the film’s trailer.
The Guilt Trip is a satisfying nibble (if you’re not expecting much) at expressing family-connectedness this holiday season, but it’s a disappointing bite because it hardly offers any big laughs. However, that is not surprising to the majority. It is obvious that this will have a premise as tiredsome and old as someone’s great grandmother. Indeed, as one may have guessed, it’s the same predictable old familiar tale that follows the old road trip formula to a tee.
However, it is fairly bearable. It isn’t anything great or remotely memorable, but it’s an okay ride to go through the motions in the passenger’s seat with for the eight days of holiday cheer (Streisand might as well just be spending Hannukah in the car). The only reason it isn’t horrible is thanks to the two stars. They’re the real charmers that can keep you holding on.
The mismatched pair create some fine chemistry. Chemistry meaning on-screen chemistry, not any of Andy’s organic chemistry experiments. While they’re not the greatest pair of all, they make the experience better than it would be without the two. They are the focal point of the film, because it feels as if any other performer in the film is just there for a cameo performance. Is the chemistry so real that Joyce might have actually given birth to Andy, which we’re supposed to believe? Not really, but I’d believe that Joyce could have adopted Andy when he was a little toddler. In that way, the chemistry isn’t perfect, but it really is the highlight of the picture.
Their chemistry is off toward the beginning, but it’s supposed to be. This film is supposed to express how the relationship between a son and mother can grow over the week’s time they spend together. Andy seems so annoyed with her mother half the time, that it gets to a point of irritation. However, this is understandable because Joyce has an over-bearing personality. The initial emotional void of sorts in their relationship toward the beginning starts to vanish and they come closer together. Just the way a predictable holiday season flick like such should be. Who wouldn’t want to spend eight days in a little clown car with their mother?
All in all, it’s a usually fun flick that offers a few somewhat funny jokes (but it’s about a laugh every five or ten minutes, maybe), but it’s extremely familiar, and the comedy is just more of the same. Anyone who’s a fan of a good road trip will enjoy it than others, though. The two primary characters are only all right, but they’re brought to life by the charming presences of Rogen and Streisand. The film relies heavily on those two stars, and they do carry it. Everyone else is just there for a scene or two (including some stars like Kathy Najimy, Adam Scott, Yvonne Strahovski and Colin Hanks). The Guilt Trip is aimed at older audiences, so young people may not find all that much pleasure with this. Seth Rogen doesn’t show any crude humor in this, so it’s a nice change to see him in this sort of role. You are to blame, Dan Fogelman, for making this really familiar, and making the dramatic scenes some of the least memorable of the feature. Some of the most memorable scenes of the film are a few miniature scenes during the end credits.