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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.
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.
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.
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.
When the previews before the main feature show about as much promise as
a toddler would in a university seminar, your hopes for what you paid
for on your trip to the cinema certainly diminish. The Guilt Trip is a
high-concept film that revolves around a mother named Joyce (Barbra
Streisand) and her son Andy (Seth Rogen) as they embark on a (you
guessed it!) road trip across the US for Andy's career, and throw some
romance in there too for no apparent reason.
It's never a good sign if you leave a supposed 'comedy' film being able to count the number of times you laughed with just one hand (I tallied three). The first hour or so of The Guilt Trip just continues to play off of the same non developing character traits and one archetypal joke. Joyce is the stereotypical, overly-attached mother whose incessant nagging and unwanted presence in her son's life is a fact oblivious to her. The film continues to regurgitate this one aspect of their relationship, and in no way deals with it with any style or substance.
It's as if screenwriter Dan Fogelman conjured up a single sentence for the bond between the two protagonists, then when he could write no more, just decided to rearrange the words of this sentence, hoping nobody would ever notice. The writer's intentions were clearly to be annoying but funny, but instead it is annoyingly unfunny just the way that this mother and son interact. It honestly felt as if my brain cells were being violated by hearing the same joke over and over again.
To be more optimistic, The Guilt Trip certainly leaves its worst qualities in the first half of the film. Midway through their trip, they refuel and begin to gain some momentum that makes the 95 minute journey considerably more tolerable, and my desire to punch the unlikable characters did in fact decline. The humour begins to become less one- dimensional but still can only manage to extract a minute amount of audience laughter. Nonetheless, this is most definitely what the picture needed following its motionless first half; the successor provides more instances of cheap amusement that keep you engaged enough to appreciate the minor modest revitalisation in cinematic quality. One way to have fun throughout The Guilt Trip is to try and guess the punch line of every joke during the time that the set up is being told. This is probably the only feeling of accomplishment one could obtain from their time experiencing the film.
The Guilt Trip is not a dreadful film by any means, but nor is it a good one. This is easily the least entertaining and most forgettable Seth Rogen film that his catalogue of comedies has to offer. It's predictable, it's a comedy without humour and the only thing that could make some of jokes more awkward (not in a good sense) would be if Barbra Streisand's character was sitting beside you, behaving in her annoying role. The only reason I would have for recommending you devote your time and money to this 'comedy' would be if you desire to occupy some time and nothing else appeals to you. Even then, I would suggest waiting until a Wednesday to use your Orange code and throw in your student card for extra discount, as full admission price would almost unquestionably make you feel a sense of guilt for making the trip after you leave the cinema screen.
Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen are a great comedy team. In fact, the
best part of Guilt Trip is when the credits are rolling at the end, and
there are several scenes that the two of them apparently improvised
during the filming. If the whole movie had been as entertaining as
those outtakes, I would have given it a "10."
Unfortunately, the makers of Guilt Trip appear to believe that a movie requires a plot, and sadly, this one was clunky. For a comedy film to work, you either have to completely put reality aside (Blazing Saddles or Rocky Horror Picture Show), or somehow believe an unbelievable story (Airplane or the Blues Brothers). This film didn't fall into either category. The plot just wasn't strong enough to support the premise that any son would be crazy enough to take his mother on a long business trip with him, and there was no reason why he kept bringing her to all his business appointments. And his mother's nutty revealing of her deepest family secret, and her insane baby-naming system, were clearly tossed in just to provide somewhere for this film to go.
Don't get me wrong. I'd really like Streisand and Rogen to do another road trip together. But next time, let's just say that space aliens abducted them and forced them to travel together. And let both of the stars ad lib their way through the adventure. I'd pay to see that one.
*** 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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