Can Seth Rogen survive a week driving across the country with his mother, Barbara Streisand? Find out as Jeffrey Harris checks in with his review of the new comedy, The Guilt Trip.
Directed By: Anne Fletcher Written By: Dan Fogelman Runtime: 95 minutes MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Andrew Brewster - Seth Rogen Joyce Brewster - Barbara Streisand Rob - Colin Hanks Jessica - Yvonne Strahovski Ben Graw - Brett Cullen Andy Margolis - Adam Scott Gayle - Kathy Najimy Anita - Miriam Margolyes
The Guilt Trip is a new comedy from director Anne Fletcher who found great success with her perky romantic comedies 27 Dresses and The Proposal. The Guilt Trip is cut from a similar cloth from those aforementioned flicks though the twist is slightly different. Instead of a romantic love story, Fletcher has a story about familial love about a boy and his mother. The scientist and inventor Andy (Rogen) has developed his own organic cleaning solution made from food products. He’s trying to sell his new cleaner to big franchises so they’ll stock it up on their shelves. Unfortunately, Andy doesn’t have a knack for performing in front of a crowd and his first sales pitch ends in disaster.
Andy pays a visit to his mother, Joyce (Streisand), at her home in New York as he’s planning a trip across the country to pitch his product. Andy loves his mother despite her big personality and idiosyncratic quirks, and wants to set her up since his dad is gone and Andy is worried his mom is becoming lonely. He then finds out his mom had a fling with a man shortly before she got married and settled down to start a family. So Andy tracks the guy down where he is apparently living in San Francisco and convinces his mother to come along his cross-country sales trip to try and set her up at the end . . . when he gets around to telling her and if he can actually survive the trip itself.
The movie was a very solid if unspectacular road trip comedy flick. Fletcher working from a script by screenwriter Dan Fogelman. Fletcher and Fogelman do great at nailing pacing. The movie runs very briskly at 95 minutes and I was never checking my watch. Rogen and Streisand do have good chemistry in their roles and play incredibly well off each other. The humor for the most part stays pretty high brow which I think is commendable and shows that Rogen can still be funny in a PG-13 setting.
I think where the movie disappoints is how utterly predictable it is. Once the plot is established, you can see exactly where it is going and when the low points in the journey for the characters will come. The biggest twist is even one you can probably figure out easily as the story all but telegraphs it. The solutions are all basically spelled out as well, so you have a good idea how things will ultimately will work out. Now predictable doesn’t always mean bad. If you watch a James Bond movie you probably know James Bond is going to get the bad guy and have some happy times with a hot babe. In a romantic comedy you know that the main pairing will ultimately work out and live happily ever after. So, The Guilt Trip is wholly conventional. The leads work well with the material, but ultimately it’s pretty basic, predictable material.
The 411: The Guilt Trip is basically your average comedy flick. And there is honestly nothing wrong with that. It's a watchable and fun, little movie and the leads have good chemistry with each other. But ultimately, the story was pretty predictable but it doesn't play with the convention in a mind-blowing way that makes you feel you must see this movie in theaters. This is a good movie to wait for a Netflix or Redbox rental for, or an early bird matinee if it suits you.