“The Guilt Trip” is a comedy revolving primarily around one single source of humor: Barbara Streisand uncomfortably over-mothering Seth Rogen. She leaves too many voicemails, gets way too personal with her questions, overshares, won’t stop talking, etc etc…
If that sounds horrifying to you, stay away. The “Guilt Trip” has literally nothing else of value to offer. If that sounds tolerable to you, this slight comedy ultimately has a sweet tone and will give you a mild chuckle or two along the way.
Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is an organic chemist who’s recently quit his EPA job in order to go into business for himself. He’s invented a safe, natural cleaning product made from plants which he calls Scieoclean. Now he plans to meet with retail organizations, hoping to find a way to get it onto shelves. He’s set up a string of meetings all across the country over a span of eight days.
Before he embarks on his cross country drive, however, he has to stop and visit his mother (Barbara Streisand). His mother has been single since his father died when he was young, and now, dotes on Andy. She’s talkative, protective, and intrusive. Andy does his best to keep her at bay and maintain his sanity, but during his visit with her, he learns something about her he never knew. Prior to meeting his father, his mother was very much in love with another man. So much so in fact, that he’s actually named after him. Obviously, this is quite a bombshell for him… That night, he investigates the man and finds he’s now working in San Francisco. In the morning, still reeling from his mother’s revelation, he does the unthinkable.
He asks his mother to accompany him on his drive cross country.
Thus sets up this comedy of discomfort. From here out, we get to watch Andy and his Mom take a long trip in a car too small, listening to a book on tape that she’s selected – about a hermaphrodite. They get to listen to it in between her constant prattling about her friends, her Pilates, her life, her thoughts on everything. When she’s not busy telling him things, she’s asking him… about his business, his love life, even his penis at one point. Make no mistake, Babs’ overbearing mother character is the crux of this movie. Rogen, for his part, draws comedy out of trying to stay sane in the face of her craziness.
For the most part, I found the humor tolerable, but I can easily imagine people wanting to run for the exit doors. There were even some decent laughs buried within along the way… Plus, of course, eventually, they find a way to see each other a little better. Oh, spoiler, I guess. Even so, at best, this is slight. This movie only has one pitch to throw, and it’s not exactly hitting 95 on the radar gun. There’s a number of predictable events and the interpersonal drama never really gets too dramatic.
Still, it’s not the worst case scenario I could have imagined. So, if you’re a big fan of either Streisand or Rogen, and you run across this movie one day, you stand a decent chance of making it through in one piece.