It's been 16 years since Barbra Streisand played a leading role in a film. It's difficult to believe that her part in "The Guilt Trip" is the role that she's been waiting for.
It's painful to watch her outstanding comedic talent, and that of Seth Rogen, completely wasted in this jumble of warmed-over sentimentality and hackneyed jokes about a mother and son taking a cross-country road trip.
‘THE GUILT TRIP’
The two bond and come to appreciate each other more after sharing a car for 2,000 miles. If that spoils the plot for you, at least it saves you 95 minutes of cliches and cold chemistry.
Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen
Cinemark Tulsa, Promenade,
Cinemark Broken Arrow, Starworld
20, RiverWalk, Owasso, Sand Springs,
1 hour, 35 minutes
PG-13 (language, some risque
(on a scale of zero to four
Streisand, 70, and Rogen, 30, seem like a good match as mother and son in a movie that is meant to find them in familial conflict when confined to close quarters in a small car, with Streisand kvetching up a storm and Rogen in "Mom, stop!" mode.
But it turns out that they are actually too gentle in their delivery and too alike in their style to ever truly be antagonistic. They're just too darn nice to each other, and that makes for a boring movie.
"The Guilt Trip" is the polar opposite of edgy, to the degree that I would have thought this to be the kind of movie that the loud, profane Rogen would never watch - much less appear in. It's not a good fit.
The movie's set-up finds Rogen playing Andy, a schlumpy, friendless, romantically arrested organic chemist who has invented an all-natural cleaning product that should be easy to promote.
But put him in front of a national chain like Costco to make his sales pitch, and he puts his audience to sleep.
He has a tour of such pitches to make, and when he learns that his widowed mother Joyce's first love lives in California, Andy and Joyce leave New Jersey, where her friends can't get her to join them at seniors' single events.
"I'll be the belle of the ball?" Joyce sniffs at her gal pals over a coffee klatch in her kitchen early in the film. "More like belle of the bald."
Such Streisand groaners are welcome when they break up the monotony of the trip, with Joyce listening to her "Middlesex" book-on-tape and Andy looking uncomfortable any time his mother brings up something sexual.
Or during her ridiculous attempt to eat a side of beef at a Texas steakhouse. Or when she's wetting her fingers with her tongue to smooth out her son's frizzy hair. Mom!!
No mothering/smothering cliches such as this go unsaid in a script by Dan Fogelman, based on his own mother and a similar trip he made with her prior to her death. It's as though Rogen and others didn't have the heart to tell Fogelman, "Hey, the way you wrote this isn't very interesting, or entertaining."
Not even director Anne Fletcher, who in her last picture, "The Proposal," highlighted all of the chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds that could squeeze out despite an average storyline.
Andy may be an organic chemist in "The Guilt Trip," but Fletcher has none of that to fall back on here.
The road (trip) to hell is paved with good intentions, but this "Trip" isn't worth taking for anyone beyond Streisand's most ardent fans.
For them, it may well be comfort food. For the rest, it will be like the food on your plate you didn't want to eat as a child, but that mom always badgered you to finish, like it or not.
Original Print Headline: 'Trip' goes nowhere as two talents are wasted
Michael Smith 918-581-8479