We've had buddy road trip movies. We've had mother and son comedies. Now we have a mother and son buddy road trip comedy with 'The Guilt Trip', a film that seemed to slip through the cracks last year, despite its unusual casting. One would assume that has something to do with the quality of the film, but with comedy now being dominated by battles of the sexes and oneupmanship to be the most inappropriate movie in the multiplex, there's something nostalgic and refreshing about this light, breezy comedy.
Andy Brewster (Seth Rogan) is crossing the U.S. in an attempt to sell his new organic cleaning product, Scioclean. Problem is, Andy just doesn't have enough charisma to win his buyers over. He begins his trip in New York, and as any good son should, visits his mother Joyce (Barbra Streisand), as typical a Jewish mother you could hope to meet. After listening to her story of a long-lost love, Andy makes the brave decision to invite Joyce along for the trip in order to find the missing man and surprise his mother. Unfortunately, a mother and son in a car for eight days has its consequences, and as all good road trips do, their relationship and tolerance for each other is tested.
GUILT TRIP - TRAILER
You aren't going to find anything particularly cinematic in 'The Guilt Trip', but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Director Anne Fletcher plays it safe, keeping the photography sunny and the rhythm breezy. The same can be said of Dan Folgelman's screenplay, which isn't more than a sketch to work from. As negative as that may sound, though, 'The Guilt Trip' is a film that understands exactly what kind of film it is, and has no shame in being that. As a package, it harkens back to the kind of breezy nineties comedies featuring Goldie Hawn or Bette Midler. There's nothing offensive or off-putting in its execution, just an ease and a charm that comedies seem to do away with more often these days.
What really makes the film work, though, is its star couple. In many ways, the unobtrusive nature of Fletcher and Fogelman's work seems in order to give Rogan and Streisand as much room as possible to exercise their comedic muscles. Rogan plays it straight in this one, making Andy a wonderfully dull character in the face of his lively mother. It shows an intelligence in Rogan as an actor, an understanding of the delicate balance that comedy and two-handers need. It may also be on account of Streisand's performance - we haven't seen her on screen in a while, but her performance as Joyce is a terrific reminder of just how much of a star she is. Streisand possesses inhuman comic timing, outstanding attention to detail and unending invention, and is the centrepiece of 'The Guilt Trip'. She and Rogan have such lovely chemistry together, and make 'The Guilt Trip' far more enjoyable than it could have been with a lesser pair.
Streisand and Rogan have such lovely chemistry together, and make 'The Guilt Trip' far more enjoyable than it could have been.
While it doesn't have much lasting power and isn't one of those films you run out and demand all your friends see, 'The Guilt Trip' is such an easy, breezy comedy that you find ourself caught up in its charms. There isn't a dull moment, and it showcases its stars with relish. Note it down as one of those movies for a lazy Sunday afternoon - this is the kind of film that doesn't tax the brain but puts a little chuckle in your heart.
PICTURE & SOUND
Just as the filmmaking isn't anything to write home about, Paramount's video and audio presentation of 'The Guilt Trip' is appropriately terrific without being that noticeable. The 2.35:1 1080p transfer is clear, crisp and sunny. Comedy is often an exercise of the basics of lighting, and this is no exception, so the image pops nicely from the screen. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track won't give your system a work-out, but dialogue and sound are nice and clear. This isn't the kind of disc you use to show off your home entertainment system, but considering the film, that shouldn't come across as a surprise.
There probably isn't much that could be talked about in regards to the making of the film, and most of the featurettes focus on the chemistry between Rogan and Streisand and how conducive it was to making the film as charming as it is. It might come as sappy if it weren't true. The featurettes tend to repeat themselves quite a bit, but they're worth a quick look. The outtakes and deleted scenes are much more interesting, if only to watch the two stars bounce off each other, and to see Streisand genuinely trump Rogan as a comedian. Nice, fluffy stuff to round off the disc.