A big fan of Barbra Streisand, both her music and acting since The Way We Were (1973), I looked forward to viewing her latest comedic role in The Guilt Trip alongside Seth Rogen, who I am not as big a fan of with some of the more obnoxious characters he has portrayed in some films. I absolutely loved Streisand in her role as Joyce, mother to Andy Brewster (Rogen) and he certainly moved up a few notches towards the positive with this film performance. Did I fall out of the theater seat laughing during the film? No, but I am glad for it, as the overall comedy does shine some realistic moments of family drama and the dynamics of a parent with an adult son that have a strained relationship in some ways. I find it to be a good family film and although it has good reason to be rated PG 13, I did not find scenes to be offensive to older and younger family and friends in the theater. There are plenty of good lines in the script written by Dan Fogelman for Streisand to deliver and she does so successfully and in a manner that women and mothers can relate to, thanks to director Anne Fletcher.
Two actors with short scenes at the end of the film, Adam Scott and Ari Graynor, are a nice surprise toward the end of the film, as well as Brett Cullen who was perfectly cast to portray a handsome Texan along the road trip. The restaurant scenes, and the overall eating patterns for Joyce, surprised me as well as entertained me. I would have loved to have been an extra in one scene where Streisand takes on a challenge in Texas.
In The Guilt Trip, Andy has invented a new cleaning product and is marketing it to varied sources. Not as successful as he has anticipated, Andy decides to visit with his mother for a while before moving on. Joyce is overbearing, but Joyce pours her heart out about something from her youth, Andy invites his mother along on the road trip to continue his endeavor. The coast to coast trip leads to learning so much more about each other than ever imagined, laughs and almost tears, along the way.
In general, don’t dismiss this as a “chick flick,” as Rogen has plenty of screen time here to enjoy, including scenes when he decides to find out where his mother has wandered off to a couple of evenings! The road trip gives her plenty to see and do.