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.