Title: The Guilt Trip
Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Seth Rogen, Barbara Streisand
This road trip movie starring a tame Seth Rogen and a gabby Barbara Streisand is mostly an uneventful 95 minute journey.
It’s about a struggling entrepreneur (Rogen) who ends up inviting his coddling mom (Streisand) to join him on a cross-country trek, as he tries to sell his latest cleaning product to a bunch of vendors. Rogen is constantly nervous that his out-spoken birth-giver could embarrass him at any time. However, the reason he invites her on this 8-day trip is because he kind of feels that she’s lonely and initiates a plan to try to remedy that. But as they spend time in the car and in hotels throughout places in Texas to Las Vegas, he starts to wonder if this was a wise move.
Basically, this is dumb-harmless. But it’s still generic as it can get. It’s tough to rip a story that is attempting to show more heart than laughs. But c’mon, give us some clever humor! This is so flat in the laugh department and a lot of that has to do with the dialogue. Rogen performs as if he was neutered; and if that’s the idea, it’s a bad one. Streisand was game, but again, it seems as if the script and the direction were keeping these two reined in. We don’t need edgy crudeness as found in Judd Apatow flicks, but a little Meet the Parents or Something’s Gotta Give type flair would have been nice. Or better yet, sub in Meryl Streep and Jason Bateman, who could elevate the lackluster writing.
When the choppy script injects 2-3 warm-n-fuzzy scenes – where the mother and son share their candid feelings about their current place in life – it definitely has the ability to strike a heart-string. And if the movie just stuck with that tone, then perhaps it would have worked wonders. Instead, director Anne Fletcher – who has balanced substance with comedy in her past outings (The Proposal and 27 Dresses) -just can’t find the right pitch on this sucker. The team assembled for this, which includes scribe Dan Fogelman (penned the excellent Crazy, Stupid, Love) just didn’t mesh well.
Overall, The Guilt Trip takes a long time to rev up to something above a sputter. And while it makes a couple worthwhile pit stops (mainly in the final act), it just doesn’t have the juice to make you care enough despite the uniqueness of a mom-and-son buddy flick.