The Guilt TripMovies
The Guilt Trip - Trailer
An inventor and his mother hit the road together in the hopes of selling his latest invention. Stars Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand.PT2M25S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2cutk 620 349 January 17, 2013
(M, 95 minutes.) Opens Thursday.
In a month of long, ambitious movies, whether they're as impressive as the forthcoming Zero Dark Thirty or as dreary as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Guilt Trip distinguishes itself via modest ambitions.
Anne Fletcher's two-handed comic melodrama aims no higher than a simple tale of a journey told with skilled lead performances and a sturdily familiar theme, and it just gets there. Just.
As a beleaguered son and an overly worried mother driving across the US, Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen mostly make light of familiar elements.
Streisand's widowed Joyce Brewster is the epitome of the Jewish-American screen mother, simultaneously projecting absolute optimism and irrational fears on to her child, and the burden is more than adequately conveyed in Rogen's dulled exasperation. It's obvious they've been this way for far too long, which adds to the feeling that the unthinkable has happened and someone signed off on Everybody Loves Raymond: The Movie.
The sense of recognition grows with the shared journey, which stems from Andy, an organic chemist trying to sell a new cleaning product during a road trip, trying to lure Joyce to San Francisco so he can reunite her with the first love she hasn't seen in 50 years.
When the story doesn't shoehorn them into situations, such as breaking down outside a strip club or Streisand getting tipsy in a cowboy bar, the two stars smartly bat the dialogue back and forth. You are reminded that some of Streisand's best early roles, such as 1972's What's Up, Doc?, were comedies.
Screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love) knows how to engineer an emotional pay-off, but the film plays as though it's keen to remain inoffensive.
The absence of gross-out humour and expletives is a welcome change, but there's also no comedic urgency.
As with The Impossible, the strength of a parent's bond with their child triumphs, and each Brewster learns from the other. But you have to wonder why Fletcher, who directed a huge box-office hit with The Proposal in 2009, is chugging along with such modest material. A male director in Hollywood whose film grossed more than $300 million worldwide would have his pick of the projects. Even Joyce could recognise that double standard.