“The Guilt Trip”
Takes You On Mother-Son Ride
Takes You On Mother-Son Ride
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Have you ever taken a trip just you and your mother? I mean as an adult. No, don’t cringe. It could happen.
As a matter of fact, that’s the plot of “The Guilt Trip,” a movie about a nice Jewish boy who is guilted into taking his mother along on a cross-country business trip. You know it’s going to be funny because it stars Seth Rogen and Barbra Steisand. How could it not be?
Rogen has given us such comedies as “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express.” And in addition to being a legendary singer, Oscar-winner Streisand has yukked it up in those “Meet the Fockers” comedies.
But what’s missing here is the Judd Apatow magic touch. “The Guilt Trip” is directed by Anne Fletcher, who gave us “27 Dresses” and “The Proposal,” very girl-centric rom-coms. Being a choreographer, her first directing role was the dance film “Step Up.”
For this comedy – currently playing at the Tropic Cinema – Fletcher had to “go Jewish,” to use Rogen’s words.
They tried to play the characters more generic, says Streisand, “But then your natural instincts come out.”
Here, Andy Brewster (Rogen) is going on the road to find a distributor for his organic cleaning product. And in a moment of weakness he invites his mom Joyce (Streisand) to tag along on this 8-day odyssey.
Along the way they encounter hitchhikers (“They rape,” his mother assures him), stop off at a topless bar with a flickering neon (“I love tapas,” she misreads it), and chow down at a roadhouse that serves steaks the size of a tire (“You know how I can eat,” she chirps as she digs in).
Yes, the trip is as painful for the son as it sounds.
However, as Andy deals with his mother issues, he comes to better understand himself. Thank you, Dr. Freud.
The screenplay by Jewish humorist Dan Fogelman is based on an actual road trip he took with his mother from New Jersey to Las Vegas. Her name is Joyce too. He describes his family as “endearingly dysfunctional.”
Streisand says she kept turning down the role until she read the script aloud with her own son, Jason Gould. Then she “fell in love with the role.”
That and the fact the producers guaranteed to film the entire movie within a 45-minute drive of her Malibu home. They also promised weekends off and no call times before 8:30 a.m.
Referring to her reputation as a demanding diva, Rogen says, “She can get away with a lot of stuff that she doesn’t pull. I've seen people with much less power than her get away with crazier things...”
Rogen tries to find the right words to describe the film. “In a lot of ways it kind of follows a very traditional buddy comedy idea, but it’s with the mother and son. To me that’s what’s different about it.”
“It’s transformative,” offers Streisand, just like a mother correcting her tongue-tied son “The journey is more than a road trip. They both grow as people by the end of the movie. That’s what I loved about it.”
Rogen says Streisand reminds him of his own mom. ‘‘I think there’s a whole generation of mothers who kind of model themselves off of Barbra. She’s the patient zero of Jewish mothers.”
The appearance of Barbra Streisand should assure you this isn’t the typical Seth Rogen stoner comedy. “I had seen a few of them,” she claims, though she referred to one of the films as “Coconut Express” in a recent interview “I was a little shocked,” she admits. “He just said that? He did that? He showed that? Oh my god!”
This film isn’t like that.
The upside is that this might be the first Seth Rogen movie you can take your mother to see.