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The Paramount marketing department would have you think this film is a wacky laugh fest. Which is a pity, since more people would enjoy the film if their expectations were different. They go in thinking the film is one way. When in reality, it's a whole other thing. The film is much more touching, funny, and real. I cared about the two main characters, and how they interacted. I was interested in what was at stake for them. For me, the smaller moments of the film made it enjoyable. It was delightful to see Streisand and Rogen working off each other like they have known each other for years. Be sure to stay for the credits to see just how well they played off each other.
Aside from her near-cameo appearances in two ensemble comedies, Barbra
Streisand has not starred in a movie in sixteen long years, not since
1996's "The Mirror Has Two Faces" which she also directed. Her output
as an actress has been meager since around 1980 when she started
directing films, building houses and returning to the concert stage
periodically, so it was with both great anticipation and some
trepidation that I saw this light- hearted 2012 comedy. What a relief
to find she hasn't missed a beat in her sharp comedy timing. I think
she's terrific as Joyce Brewster, the energetically overbearing mother
of Andy, an organic chemical engineer who long ago moved to California
and has recently invented a cleaning solution he is pitching to various
store chains headquartered across the country. He plans a weekend visit
with Joyce in New Jersey, but upon an intriguing discovery about her
past, he invites her on an eight-day cross-country road trip with him.
As directed by Anne Fletcher ("The Proposal") and written by Dan Fogelman (the underrated "Crazy Stupid Love") who based his script on his own late mother, the film is about how their two mismatched personalities unsurprisingly clash at every stop as their relationship twists and turns with each new humiliation for Andy and each new revelation for the both of them, a few of them quite poignant. The film is at its comedic best when she and co-star Seth Rogen as Andy volley back and forth with her well-meaning thoughts and antics at odds with his spiky annoyance at anything she says or does. Rogen plays against type as the coiled-up Andy since his stoner-dude personality has been the basis of much of his previous comedy. Here he needs to show some dramatic gravity (as he did earlier this year in "Take This Waltz") and again does surprisingly well when necessary. There is a confrontation scene between the two characters that I wish could have gone on a bit longer and deeper than it did, but he manages to bring a real edge to the film in ways I didn't quite expect from him.
Of course there are predictable comedy pieces that also work like a steak-eating contest in Texas where Joyce has to down a fifty-ounce piece of beef in an hour to avoid a $100 tab. There's also quite a supporting cast here, but like Streisand movies of yore, the familiar actors contribute moments that amount to nearly bit parts. Kathy Najimy and Miriam Margolyes are among Joyce's Weight Watchers friends in a quick dinner scene early in the story, while Adam Scott and Ari Graynor show up at the very end of the road trip in San Francisco. In between are appearances by Brett Cullen as a cowboy who becomes smitten with Joyce during the eating contest and Nora Dunn as an officious HSN TV hostess. But that's fine since Rogen really lets Streisand dominate the movie all the way from pushing off potential suitors at a mature singles mixer to getting into the wrong car at a mini-mart pit-stop to getting drunk in a motel bar to sharing her innocently ignorant perceptions of stereotypes. This is only her 19th film since her extraordinary debut in "Funny Girl" 44 years ago, reason enough to enjoy the warm, accomplished performance she gives here.
I mean that in the nicest way because honestly the movie was wonderful to watch. There wasn't really anything comedic about this movie in the slightest. Although there are some parts that were quite funny, if you plan to watch this movie, do so with family, not with friends, because this is the kind of movie that is simply telling the story of a mother and her son who have grown distant as time has past and how one thing (trip) manages to bring them closer together. If you're looking for a laugh your butt off type movie watch Bridesmaids or Pitch Perfect. But if you're looking for a heartfelt beautifully told story about family then watch this movie because Barbara Streisand gives her best!
Mama don't let your boys grow up to be cowboys or better yet organic chemist. In this fun tale you see Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is on a mission to sell his discovered organic cleaning product and find a distributor. In a caring move he invites his mother Joyce Brewster (Barbra Streisand) to come along for the eight day cross country trip. Most movies feature two guys or girls in a crazy road trip but never a mother and son. Freud was right, we all have mother issues and Andy finally deals with his overbearing mother as he sets out to discover his own identity. This movie is fun, touching, and is above the bond between mother and son. In the preview I saw I took my own mother and she enjoyed it. In a special live simulcast with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen they took questions about the Road Trip. According to Streisand, she was pursued by director Ann Fletcher for the role. It was not until she read the script out loud with her own son that she fell in love with the role. Streisand did a phenomenal job and you get the feeling that the role is way below her pay grade. They did accommodate all her request. All the scenes were shot within forty five minutes of her house in Malibu, California and she did not even have to drive. According to the pop diva, she has not driven for over a decade. She was also asked if she would ever like to take a road trip with someone and she said Marlon Brando. She did take a day trip with him once to check out the desert wild flowers once and had fun. When asked if Babs had any resemblance with his real life mother, Rogen said that they are both strong Jewish women but that his mother resembled more a past character that Streisand played in Meet the Fockers. His mother is a Jewish hippie type of woman. The Guilt Trip opens December 19, perfect for the holiday season and a fun tale of love, joy, and celebrating life. In the end it will make you appreciate your mother and the characters discovered that they were more alike than different.
How is it possible that when you put together an esteemed actress with
the ambassador of a new generation comedy that you get a second rate
movie? For starters this film started off as a wannabe comedy. It was
as if the cast were trying their hardest to make us laugh but it just
did not work. The obsessive neurotic mother with the geeky kind of son
was somewhat off for laughs.
Then the conversation developed, the story unfolded but despite the charm and warmth it conveyed as well as being engaging, it never really went beyond making the audience smile, so the supposed comedy never happened which is a shame as the ingredients were there.
At the beginning of the movie I would agree with some of the sentiments
of the reviewers (see the scathing reviews on Rotten Tomatoes), however
I stuck with it and was rewarded.
The second half really picks up and everything comes to frankly a touching and satisfying conclusion with great performances.
Which just confirms that many reviewers must have skipped out after only watching about 30 minutes of the movie and reviewed it based on the first weakest segment.
As the movie progresses the performances, the chemistry between Rogan and Streisand, the story and the comedy takes off and it becomes the movie you hoped it would be. It really has a heart, you just need to be patient for it to come along. Hang in there ;-)
Filmmakers take note - you HAVE to grab your audience in the first 20-30 minutes, especially if some of them are jaded reviewers watching screener DVDs that they might just skip if they get the least bit bored and publish a scathing review as punishment.
Nice movie with strong, likable actors. I'd call it a holistic movie,
it's so complete. The only thing missing from the movie is the point.
Why on earth would I want to see another middle-aged man take his dear
mom on a road trip? Marveling at why I don't take my mum on a lengthy
cross-country trip in an uncomfortably small car hasn't really kept me
awake at night. I'm not surprised that it might get awkward. Coz it's
her motherly duty to make me feel awkward. My job is to stay the feck
clear of her. That's called son-mom-dynamics. Unlike Andy, I did study
on the other end of the country to get as far away as possible from my
parentals. The quality of the institution had nothing whatsoever to do
with it. If I'd had the choice to either study brain surgery in my
mum's basement or to attend the Compton Council College for assistant
janitors on the other coast, my job would have been as clear as a
spring day in the Mohave. That's maybe not very nice, but it sure is
Also, the movie is predictable. When the Southron gentleman introduces himself to Joyce, we KNOW she won't get to meet her puppy love object in Frisco. And I was waiting all through the movie for Andy to finally drink his cleanser, knowing that this would be presented in the movie as a brilliant selling point, which it isn't.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At the beginning of the movie, Seth Rogen uses the line "Bad Chemistry
Alert" line in his presentation. I think he should have said "Bad Movie
Alert" instead. The movie was cliché, cloying, and just plain idiotic
from start to finish. Thank goodness we saw it on the super matinée
pricing, about half the normal weekend price.
I have to wonder how much money Streisand owes and to whom. So far this year, we have been subjected to her 2012 Farewell Tour, which I understand had tickets STARTING at $100 in the SF area. The newspaper reviews made it sound like you got about 3 or 4 songs from Barbra and the rest was from the (admittedly good) warm-up group "Il Volo". Now along comes this poor excuse for a comedy, which our local theater on opening weekend had the good sense to relegate to the smallest screen in the building, and that was half full.
The two best parts of this movie were its brevity (90 minutes or so long) and some of the outtakes at the end were worth a chuckle.
I looked forward to this film, thinking it would be a hilarious showcase of not only Streisand's talents but an expose of the difficult relationships between mothers and grown sons. I got neither. It was boring just a few minutes into it. I felt Mr. Rogen's acting was plausible and done well. However, hers was lackluster and not up to her usual standards. There were very few laughs at all. The difficulties of the relationship were not highlighted very much either. Some of the dialog was nonsensical to say the least. I also thought it ridiculous to have her considering 50 year-olds for dating and trying to convince us she was under 60; usually it's the other way around. All in all I was very disappointed in this movie and had to concur with another woman leaving the theater at the same time when she said "what a waste of time!"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Is it funny? Yes, if you can laugh at yourself.
Critics are flat wrong to give this film a bad review. The touching story tells about the adult relationship - at least its improvement - between a mother and son. Actually a lot of it reminded me of my daughter and me. "No, Mom, I do not want to join you in pilates."
The mother's out-of-control phone call frequency and tendency to unrealistically reassure her son of success are measured out between restrained and very real grinding gears as they try to share time together. My least favorite bit was the $100 meal, but it set up nicely her last phone call. Even as they said goodbye at the airport, they mistimed their interactions spot on. They separated with an improved mother-son bond. Delightful.
Not a slapstick comedy. I did find specific scenes side-hugging hilarious, mostly because I could see myself and my children splashed incongruently across the scene. Where you laugh will be as individual as you are as a viewer.
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