A version of this review appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
“The Guilt Trip”
Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen make a convincing and charming mother-son duo in the warmly funny road comedy “The Guilt Trip.”
Screenwriter Dan Fogelman (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) based the script on a real-life cross-country trip he took with his mother, which gives the film a cozy veracity. Director Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal”) clearly understands she has two seasoned comedic actors behind the wheel, and so she lets them drive, fuels the film with their easy, authentic chemistry.
Still, Fogelman’s story steers “The Guilt Trip” firmly into Streisand’s demographic; the film only occasionally sideswipes the kind of raunchy hilarity Rogen made his name with in “Knocked Up.” and “The Pineapple Express.”
Rogen plays Andrew Brewster, a Los Angeles-based organic chemist who has given up his job at the Environmental Protection Agency to developed a safe new food-based cleaning solution. His product may be revolutionary, but he hasn’t been able to peddle it to a single company because his strictly science sales pitches put the suits to sleep. Since he’s out of money and can’t afford to fly, Andy plans a cross-country trek to hit several potential retailers.
First, he dutifully visits his loving, long-widowed mother Joyce back home in New Jersey. Streisand could play this doting, overbearing and oversharing Jewish matriarch in her sleep, but she brings an enchanting tenderness and vivacity to the character that keeps her from getting too annoying.
When his mom reveals that she named Andy after the love of her life — the boy she dated before she married his father — the scientist is curious enough to look up her old flame online and discover her former beau lives in San Francisco. Eager to alleviate his mom’s loneliness — and assuage his guilt over moving across the country — Andy invites her to join him on his road trip.
The movie cruises through typical car comedy gags like wild weather, quirky regional attractions and battles over the radio (Joyce only wants to listen to the audio book of “Middlesex,” Jeffrey Eugenides’ acclaimed novel about a hermaphrodite man); fortunately, it also travels deeper into relatable relationship-driven humor.
The Blu-ray features several deleted scenes, five making-of featurettes, two alternate openings, an alternative ending and a gag real. Plus, Target is offering an exclusive “gift-wrapped” Mother’s Day edition that comes with a Streisand audio greeting card.