Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen, Kathy Najimy, Colin Hanks, Brett Cullen, Adam Scott
Running time: 95 minutes
Synopsis: As inventor and salesman Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is about to embark on an eight-day road trip a quick stop at his mum’s house turns into an unexpected cross-country voyage with her along for the ride.
Billed as ‘the first mother-son road movie,’ THE GUILT TRIP sets out to pull on the heartstrings while simultaneously drawing laughs. Unfortunately, the result is a small drop of comedy lost in an entire ocean of Hollywood schmaltz. The film is too subdued to be a straight comedy, while the two lead characters’ respective love lives are too ho-hum to make it a film driven by drama or romance. The result is a rather underwhelming bore that should have embellished its comedy element to far greater effect.
In her first leading role since the nineties, Barbra Streisand plays Joyce, a lonely divorced mother living through her son, Andy. Streisand showed that she has some comedic form as an overbearing, embarrassing mother character in MEET THE FOCKERS, and she delivers here on the rare occasion she is given a decent gag. Sadly the script is weak, and without the funnies her incessant motherly squawking becomes profoundly annoying. Respite is only afforded when in probably the film’s best scene, she speedily feeds her face with a 100oz steak.
Using his sales trip as an excuse to reunite his mother with an old flame, Seth Rogen has reasonable chemistry with Streisand, but his mopey sales rep feels very two-dimensional aside from sparse, funny-ish mumbles such as contemplating the least amount of time it’s acceptable to look at the Grand Canyon. With the supporting cast offering nothing to proceedings, too much time is spent exploring a tiresome and predictable mother-son-both-looking-for-love-at-different-stages-of-their-life routine with little comedic distraction. The conclusion is mildly touching if you manage to stay awake that long, but most people would happily swap the preceding ninety minutes of Hollywood sentimentalism for one big laugh out loud moment.
One would expect this mom-com to take a few more risks in its quest for laughs, but it’s crying out for some outrageous comedy set pieces. THE GUILT TRIP represents a missed opportunity, with the jokes surprisingly tame considering what we have come to expect from a Seth Rogen movie, notably in a scene where the pair find themselves in a roadside strip club.
If you’re looking to treat your mum this Mother’s Day, taking her to see THE GUILT TRIP is probably on a par with grabbing a wilted bunch of flowers from a petrol station forecourt and arranging them in a dirty pint glass on her kitchen table.
The Guilt Trip is released in UK cinemas on March 8th.