The Guilt Trip
Directed by Anne Fletcher. Starring Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen, Kathy Najimy, Colin Hanks, Nora Dunn. (2012, PG-13, 95 min.)
REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Dec. 21, 2012
This film completely surrenders to its premise, with everything else following in a predictable way. Inventor Andy Brewster (Rogen) is about to start on a cross-country road trip to pitch his new product – a cleaner – to major chains. On the spur of the moment, he invites his mother Joyce (Streisand) to join him. The only surprising thing about their trip is that though it features classic and typical Jewish humor – the overbearing mom and the overwhelmed son – the pair's surname is Brewster, and there is no mention of religion.
Streisand and Rogen are both impressive comedic talents, but in an attempt at sophistication, they both very much underplay their roles, which is to the detriment of the film. The resulting tone is not shrill, nor does it boast an absurd number of embarrassing moments. The Guilt Trip fails in a completely opposite direction: It is gentle, loving, and way too understated. Therefore, it’s overwhelmingly sweet, but also unexciting and not about much of anything.
One would quite logically expect more from this release – especially since it’s from such romantic-comedy pros as director Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses, The Proposal) and writer Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) – only you don’t get it. There is one moment toward the end that sent chills up and down my back – only not enough to redeem the whole film. The Guilt Trip has laughs throughout, yet they never build on one another. Instead, they sequentially follow in an earnest, linear way. Watching this movie is not a complete waste of time, but it is little more than a sitcom-lite diversion.