I need to travel with Jewish family members more, problem is: I don’t have any!
An inventor (Seth Rogen) invites his mother (Barbra Streisand) on a cross-country trip as he tries to sell his new product to all the big-company chains, while also trying to reunite her with a long, lost love.
After appearing in both of the lame-o, Meet the Parents sequels, Babs is back and bitchier than ever! As you could expect from a woman of her class, there was a lot of turmoil on the set where she wouldn’t work anywhere that was 20 miles away from her house and even wouldn’t allow any scene to be shot, unless she had the right amount of make-up and shining-lights on her. I don’t know how Seth Rogen responded, he probably just nervously-chuckled his way through it all, but either way, it’s pretty great to see Babs back on the big-screen and it sort of has you realize that you know what? I missed the hell out of this gal, no matter how annoying she can be at times. I put an extra-strain on the term, “at times”.
The idea of a cross-country road-trip with an overbearing, embarrassing mother is pretty damn relateable and in ways, that’s where the magic of this flick surprisingly works. Hopefully, all of you have been able to have and interact with a mother, or at least, a motherly-figure, and realize how painful and annoying it can be to constantly be around them as they think that they always right, always think that they know what’s best for their child, and try whatever they can do to just make your life better, even though it just continues to add-on more annoyance. Not all momma’s are like this but basically, you get the gist of it all: mothers have love and warmth in their hearts, but they also can be a bit over-bearing at times and what better person to play the over-bearing, annoying mother than Babs herself??
I think having Barbra in this role as the mother, would have been a risky-move, mainly cause it would have just turned-on to be a caricature in and of itself, but Streisand makes her more than just that. Surprisingly, Striesand gives Joyce a lot more credit than the actual-script does and shows that this lady, although protective and annoying, does love her son, does feel as if she knows what’s best for him, and really just wants to have a great-time with her life, because it almost seems like that’s been missing as of late. This role of Joyce could have really gone as unbearable and annoying to watch, but somehow, in her own, crazy-way, Streisand makes her fun and heartfelt to watch and see the different layers of her character that come pouring-out, especially when you least expect it to.
Seth Rogen may seem like a bit of an odd-choice to play her kiddie, Andy, but actually does a nice-job with it, even though the guy really is toning-it-down a whole lot here. And I mean, A WHOLE LOT. You get the nervous chuckle, you get the awkward looks in his eyes, and you get the random banters and fits of rage, but nothing all that funny or hilarious to actually come out of his mouth and as much as it may work for this dorky, uptight character, it doesn’t quite work for Rogen, as you can sort of tell that he really wants to join-in the fun with Babs and let loose as well. Still, Rogen is good and gives Andy more depth and heart than we expect, even though it feels more like a step-back for Rogen, even despite co-starring with the one and only, Barbra Streisand.
Together, they make a nice, mother-son couple, and actually make a lot of the more obvious and conventional scenes between them work. Actually, the surprisingly work, mainly because the film is surprisingly, not what you expect it to be. From the trailers and advertisements, you automatically think that this is going to be another, wacky and goofy, road-trip comedy where the overprotective mother, constantly embarrasses and does stupid things to make her son go even crazier in his head. In a way, that sort of happens here, but in another way, it’s more dramatic and heartfelt this go-around. You’ll be surprised by how nice this flick can make you feel and even if you aren’t laughing your ass to death, you still find yourself a bit happy and pleased with a mother-son relationship, where they both obviously love one another and want nothing more than to make the other person’s life a little bit more pleasant whenever they aren’t around. It’s a nice sentiment to see on the big-screen, regardless of if you are close with your mother or not.
However, you can’t hide from the fact that this flick is as obvious and conventional as they come. Every single turn you expect for a film like this to take, it does take, and it just continues to go on, and on, and on, and on, until you finally just give-up, accept the way things are going to be, and decide to give-in to all of the cheeky, melodrama they begin to shove down your throat. Most of it is eye-rolling and most of it is cliche beyond belief, and for any viewer out there that demands more and more with your road-trip flicks starring two Jewish family members, then you may not appreciate this flick. However, if you are looking for that, then you may have a solid time. I use the term, “may”, very loosely so if you don’t like it, you don’t love it, or you don’t even come back in a happy-mood, wanting to give your big mommy a big, old hug and smooch on the cheek, don’t come to my house with fire and pitch forks because I did actually say: you “may” like it. You heard it from me, folks, give it a try if you’d like but I can say you “may” have fun. Once again, “may”.
Consensus: This is as obvious, as predictable, and as ham-fisted as they come with movies about mother-son bonding, but The Guilt Trip still isn’t a terrible-watch because of the fine chemistry between both Rogen and Streisand, ans the heartfelt emotions about a love between a mother and a son that feels more real, than actually manipulative. You may be a bit surprised by this one, trust me. Shit, there’s that “may” word again!