The Guilt Trip | Movie review
Barbra Streisand hunkers down on nagging-mom stereotypes.
One might be tempted to write off The Guilt Trip as overly familiar, but Barbra Streisand volunteering for a one-hour steak-eating challenge is almost certainly a screen first. Streisand’s food-loving Jersey mom, Joyce, does so during a cross-country road trip with her grown son, Andrew (Seth Rogen). His dorky ineptitude at marketing his environmentally friendly cleaning product—the journey’s ostensible purpose—is matched beat for beat by her capacity for TMI nagging. Is his sexual performance, she asks him, responsible for his inability to hold down a steady relationship? In another development, Andrew secretly plans to reunite Joyce with a long-lost lover at the trip’s last stop, San Francisco. Along the way, “jokes” consist of Streisand trotting out Jewish-mother stereotypes and repeated cutaways to the duo listening to the audiobook of Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex.
Barely a minute of The Guilt Trip passes the plausibility test, and only one line—Rogen informing a shopping-network anchor that ingesting nonnatural cleaning products will make someone “shit blood”—got me to laugh. Anne Fletcher relays the pair’s thoroughly innocuous bickering with the same barely functional camera setups she brought to 2009’s Sandra Bullock–Ryan Reynolds fake-marriage comedy The Proposal. The movie is not so much terrible as fatally slight, refusing to allow its characters to behave in ways that don’t directly tie into the screenplay’s third-act lessons. Only Streisand gets a full meal.