For their latest comic trick, Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen go for something that neither has been known for over the course of their respective careers cute. With Guilt Trip, theyve made a holiday comedy safer for Streisands audience than for Rogens, a mild-mannered movie you wont be embarrassed to take your mom to.
Well, not too embarrassed.
Rogen is Andy, an organic chemist who left his job with the Environmental Protection Agency to try to sell his environmentally friendly cleaner, Scieoclean, to K-Mart, Costco, Ace Hardware or whoever will have it. Hes struggling.
But to Joyce (Streisand), he is still my perfect boy, the apple of Moms New Jersey eye. Andy worries about his Mom, wonders why she doesnt date. Mom wonders why Andy isnt married.
Ive been to the dance, and now Im tired, the widowed Joyce tells him. Youre skipping the dance altogether.
A little revelation by her on a visit home gives Andy the idea to drag her along on a road trip, from New Jersey to San Francisco. Eight days in a car. Eight days in, thanks to Joyces frugality, a tiny Chevy Aveo, making stops in Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and ending in San Francisco.
Its a situation fraught with peril and pregnant with promise. Hear mom question Andy about your problem with women. Meet Andys ex-girlfriend in Nashville. Seek roadside assistance at a Deep South strip club (run by the formidable Dale Dickey of Winters Bone).
See Andy fail, time and again, at his meetings with retailers. Watch him ignore Moms always-sound advice. Hear her put a stop to his swearing. (Enough with the language.)
Streisands audience demands so little from her these days, and this Dan Fogelman (Cars, Fred Claus, Crazy, Stupid, Love) script demands even less. Shes played a Yentl. Its time she tried a yenta, See Joyce in her active, over-scheduled life with her New Jersey coffee klatsch (including Kathy Najimy and Miriam Margolyes). Study her routine dozing off as she watches TV and eats M&Ms in bed. Watch Joyce dive into one of those steakhouses where the meals free if you can finish a side of beef in an hour.
Even the broader moments have a muted, respectful comedy. Streisand is far more out-there and fun on those Meet the Parents movies. Guilt Trip is a comedy of gentle laughs and light moments, with both actors dialing down their personae to squeeze them into an econo-box of a car.
Guilt Trip is everything youd expect in a mother-son road trip comedy starring the profane and pot-friendly Rogen and the wizened, smart-mouthed diva Streisand. And less.
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