Images Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
You could be a heart surgeon or unemployed living in your parent’s basement; if you have a Jewish mother, you can do no wrong. She will love you as if you’re the answer to world peace. But, with all of the praise and undying affection comes utter insanity. She will drive you crazy until you finally break and yell at her. Then comes the guilt. In “The Guilt Trip,” Barbra Streisand is the ultimate “muddah” (Yiddish for mother), and it’s a great narrative of what it’s like to be raised by one. This situational comedy from Paramount Pictures is a triumphant return for the icon and an entertaining 95 minutes of comedic mother-son bonding time. After seeing the film, I can’t imagine any other actress in the lead role.
“The Guilt Trip” follows Seth Rogen as Andy Brewster, an organic chemist on his way to pitch his safe cleaning product creation, ScioClean to companies across America. Before embarking on his road trip, Andy makes a stop to visit his mother, Joyce (Streisand). In between her weight-watchers and book club, she admits to her son that he was named after the love of her life, who happens to not be his father. Out of curiosity, Andy looks up the man and finds his address in San Francisco. In an attempt to reunite his mother with the former beau, he invites her on what becomes “The Guilt Trip” across America.
Although Rogen is best known for his infectious laugh and comedic work in films such as “Superbad” and “Knocked Up,” his character is surprisingly not that funny. This is not to say that his performance is bad. He simply portrays what Rogen himself calls, “not a particularly funny guy or in a good mood for the majority of the movie.” Streisand is the one who gets the laughs. She does comedy so well; she is the ‘funny girl.’ Streisand doesn’t have to sing to entertain.
Her on-camera affinity with Rogen keeps the movie flowing smoothly. The director, Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal,” “27 Dresses”) said, “They had such great chemistry and such a great ability to improvise with each other.” It was clear, even at the films’ press conference, that Streisand and Rogen were two peas in a pod. Rogen said, “The way we talk in real life is not entirely different than our rapport in the movie. It’s a lot of me trying to explain things to her about modern times and her trying to feed me $%&t I don’t want to eat.”
As funny as the film is, Dan Fogelman (Tangled, Crazy, Stupid, Love) wrote a script that is both comical and heartfelt. A surprising discovery in the end sneaks up on you and even conjured a tear in my eye. “It’s a transformative kind of movie. Both of them kind of strategically alone, not finding a mate. I always say it’s a different kind of love story,” said Streisand. Sometimes movies in which a parent and their grown child spend more than a holiday meal together, turns into a story about understanding, appreciation and love. Coincidentally, Streisand’s son, Jason was the one who convinced her to do the film. I got the impression that “The Guilt Trip” wasn’t too far from reality for her, “He sees me as his mother who touches his hair too much.”
“The Guilt Trip” releases just in time for the Holidays December 19th in theaters nationwide. It’s a wonderful film for mothers and sons, mothers and daughters and the entire family.
By Pamela Price