One of my favorite comedies of all time is the underrated, “What’s Up Doc” which starred Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal back in 1972. I’ve been waiting since then to see Barbra in another comedy that was as good. She has such great comedic timing that is a wonder why that talent has been tapped more often.
Written by Dan Fogelman, who has had some hits and misses over the years (“Tangled,” “Fred Claus”), “The Guilt Trip” isn’t what I was expecting, it is one great flick.
Streisand plays the role of a younger woman in that she plays the mother of Seth Rogen. At 70, she is probably too old to actually be Rogen’s mother, but she looks incredible and pulls off the character well. (It is so strange to see her wearing a sweatshirt and little makeup.) The two make a great pair with a real rhythm with their banter in this road trip comedy.
In “Trip,” Andy Brewster (Rogen) has invented a new cleaning product that is 100% natural but nobody is interested in. He sets out on a road trip to meet with various companies in hopes that they will buy his product. Somewhat on a whim, he invites his mother Joyce (Streisand) along for the ride.
Andy has never married and Joyce has been a widow since Andy’s father died when he was eight. Joyce is a sweet old lady who collects frog trinkets, goes to Weight Watcher’s meetings but doesn’t follow the program, and gossips daily with her friends. She feels guilty that she is somehow to blame for her son’s lack of a wedding band. He feels guilty for just about everything.
While not a completely new concept, “The Guilt Trip” has a few surprises. It would be easy to assume that the movie is about a guy and how his mother embarrasses him. And it is, to a point. The film is also about why grown children need to still honor their parents. Andy is fairly rude to his mother and at one point in the story; she comes to a boiling point. Things get a bit tense which only adds a little realism to the story. Throughout their trip, each learns a secret or two about the other and they learn to appreciate each other on a different level.
There is much to like about this film, but a few more laughs would have been nice. “Trip” is filled with star cameos including Kathy Najimy, Colin Hanks, Nora Dunn and Adam Scott. Some are wasted opportunities. Najimy is too funny to only have about two minutes of screen time. Instead of drawing you into the story, it actually makes you wonder where these actors have been lately.
All in all, if you have a mother, you’ll appreciate this movie. It is rated PG-13 for some language and some adult situations, but nothing crass.