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THE GUILT TRIP: “A Great Movie to Take Your Mom to!”

THE GUILT TRIPSeth Rogen as Andy Brewster
Barbra Streisand as Joyce Brewster
Brett Cullen as Ben Graw
Colin Hanks as Rob
Kathy Najimy as Gayle
In theaters December 19

Meet Andy, a mostly quiet shy young man with a Masters in Organic Chemistry from UCLA, who has created a completely natural cleaning product which he is hoping to sell to a retailer. So he plans a cross country trip to pitch his product to various retail stores and companies. Before setting out on his journey he decides to visit his mom in New Jersey. Joyce is a lovely, gently nagging, gently hovering mom who is very proud of her son and loves him very much. Joyce loves to collect frog knick knacks and loves to eat peanut M&Ms before bed. She’s a widow who has a wonderful circle of friends and a limited social life, but deep down there is a part of her that’s lonely. Andy can sense this, and being a good son, wanting his mom to be happy, Andy decides to ask her to accompany him on his trip. Just before taking off, Joyce confesses a secret to Andy about a lost love she had before she married Andy’s father – a boy she loved very much, but ultimately did not stay with. Andy is both very surprised and intrigued by his mother’s revelation, including the fact that even though the man was not Andy’s father Joyce named Andy after him in tribute. Andy is intrigued by his mother’s revelation so much that he decides to look up her old boyfriend and, as a surprise, arrange a meet up with him when they reach the end of the trip in San Francisco.

So it’s a road trip with mom in a compact car across the country. Can mother and son reconnect with each other on a cross country trip in close quarters and constant contact without driving each other crazy? Along the way mom and son bicker over almost everything from the size of the car to the snacks Joyce has brought, to the book on tape she wants to listen to on the way.  When Andy’s pitch doesn’t seem to be going over well, Joyce suggests that he change his approach, but he is too set in his ways about his invention and is very resistant to constructive criticism, to the point of losing his temper with a potential buyer about just changing the name of the product.  As Andy struggles to reach his goal of finally getting a buyer, Joyce learns to loosen up, let go, and have a little fun in her life.  Along the way there are a few adventures:  the stripper that helps them out of a jam when their car stalls, the bar fight Andy gets into defending his mom’s honor, and the steak eating contest that Joyce decides to take part in.

There have been dozens of “buddy” comedies and “road trip” comedies, but I don’t think there has been a “mom & me” comedy before. Seth and Barbra have great chemistry and have very believable warmth as mother and son. This is Barbra’s first film appearance since Little Fockers in 2004.  Her performance as Joyce in The Guilt Trip is a little more realistic than Roz Focker. Not played for high comedy, this character as well as the film felt good and natural. Rogen seems the perfect combination of awkward and slightly nerdy.  He’s a little more grown up here than in his previous roles, but very likeable. Seth has proven himself a smart, savvy young man in today’s Hollywood and working with La Streisand is another great feather to have in his cap.

Perhaps the reason why this film feels so believable is because screenwriter Dan Fogelman wrote this about a similar trip that he took with his mom. Some instances in the film were actual events from their trip, for instance, the steak eating contest.

The Guilt Trip has plenty of laughs and warmth, with a gentle touch of realism. This is a great movie to take your mom or even a date to. Who knows, maybe if you take your mom, you might actually have a little fun!   After seeing this, I was actually thinking about taking a trip with my mom. Really! You’ll definitely walk away with a great feeling. (Or at least the feeling you should call your mom after you see it!)

5 out of 5 stars.

Check out the trailer for “The Guilt Trip” below:

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