Review: Don't Lay 'The Guilt Trip' On Someone Else
Despite having a phenomenal cast with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, "The Guilt Trip" lacks the depth, vigor, and witticism needed to make it a memorable ride.
Inventor and organic chemist Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) embarks on an eight-day journey that could change his life. Traveling cross country, he hopes to sell his eco-friendly cleaning product to various vendors. Before taking his trek, however, he visits his widowed mother, Joyce (Barbra Streisand), and invites her to come along. The question left unanswered in the previews is, why?
Prior to leaving for his trip, Joyce shares with Andy that she once loved a man named Andrew Margolis. When she realized he would not commit, she married Andy’s father. However, to keep her fond memories of him close by, she named her son after him. Instead of being appalled by the matter, which I think I may have been, Andy is intrigued and finds him on the Internet living in San Francisco. So, he invites his mom to tag along on his sales trip. He tells her his last meeting is in San Francisco, upon which he will reunite the two love birds.
The plot is based on the real-life trip of screenwriter Dan Fogelman and his mother, which is probably why it lacks any real "oomph." It reminds me of all the times I tell people stories about things that happened in my life and get a blank stare back. I always say, “I guess you had to be there,” and that is how it is with "The Guilt Trip." The humor is lacking, the conversations are drab, and there is no real pep to the plot.
I will contradict myself and say I was able to sit through it without checking my watch or wishing for the end, but I walked out without being touched, enlightened or even moved emotionally in the least bit. It has been two days since I have seen it and I am "guilty" of remembering one line from the film and that's the long-lost lover boy's name (I happen to know someone with a similar name).
On the plus side, the movie was tolerable and worth watching due to Rogen and Streisand's performance.
Their chemistry was wonderful. I truly believed Andy came from Joyce’s womb. Though drab, their conversation flowed and their relationship did appear to change course throughout the film. In one pivotal scene, Andy delivers a verbal tirade to his mother. I so expected the film to go like any other, where the mom stays quiet and goes off to a corner and cries, but not this film. Joyce delivers a prompt, verbal tirade back to him, putting her son in his place; iit was the best action scene of the film.
Streisand’s character comes on a little strong at first. The movie opens with her leaving countless messages on Andy’s phone about trivial matters and then screaming his name while jumping around at the airport upon his arrival. However, her personality never becomes irksome and honestly, it is those first actions that will remind most viewers of their own mother.
Rogen plays a more somber character than some of his previous roles. Yet, he has proven himself to be a versatile actor with films such as Take This Waltz and The Green Hornet. Andy is an intellect and it is obvious within the first five minutes that he has no idea how to pitch a product. He tries to dazzle with data instead of dynamism. Though reluctant to his mother’s suggestion, his final pitch is won by following her advice. I related most to Andy’s acceptance of his mother exactly as she is. He gets annoyed at times, but it is not the same annoyance as when we are teenagers and looking to run from our parents. It’s simply a “there she goes again, but I love her anyways” attitude that is acquired in our late 20’s.
After being asked by a few people if they think the movie is worth watching, my response is, “I wouldn’t deter you from it, but I wouldn’t encourage you either.” That pretty much sums it up as "meh" if you ask me.