Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Movie Review: THE GUILT TRIP

Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand, Colin Hanks, Adam Scott, Kathy Najimy

I never would have expected the divine Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen to star in a movie together. Those two are light years apart on the acting spectrum and are in such different generations of Hollywood, yet somehow the concept of them starring as mother and son somehow works. Andy Brewster (Rogen) is visiting his mother Joyce (Streisand) while he heads out on the road trying to promote and sell his product to big businesses like K-Mart and Costco. He invented an all natural cleaning product made from coconut, grass, and soy called Scieoclean. Needless to say, the name of it is hard to pronounce and Andrew does not have the best sales pitch. Joyce is his widowed and retired mom who seems to be enjoying life to the fullest all the while being slightly overbearing by constantly calling Andy, leaving messages, and prodding into his life.

A late night conversation over ice cream seems to open up the doors to some family secrets. Joyce opens up to Andy about the long lost love that she left behind when she married his father. Andy just so happens to be named after this lost love. The light bulb goes off in Andy's head and he researches the whereabouts of this Andrew Margolis character. He tracks Andrew down in San Francisco and invites his mother along on his business trip under the ruse of them being able to spend some good quality mother son time together. In reality, he wants to take her to San Francisco to track down Andrew so she can have some closure. Joyce is thrilled at the idea of joining her son on a business trip driving all over the United States. She has an idea to play matchmaker herself by wanting to set Andy up with his high school sweetheart when they pass through her hometown. She packs far too many suitcases, a controversial book on CD, and has far too many opinions for Andy to deal with on the first day.

Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen are definitely playing against their usual types and images we see them as in real life or the characters they have played before. There is not one scene where we see Rogen smoking pot! Being the accomplished legend that she is, Streisand is far more believable in playing against type. I just could never fully believe the fact that Rogen is a chemical engineer trying to sell a cleaning product he invented. Streisand knew how to play the overbearing moments while making subtle choices when she is trying to win over Andy. I always felt like I was learning so much about her character even she was not blabbing away at Andy. There is an argument scene in the hotel room that she completely nails and I understood everything she was thinking about leading up to her speech. Unlike Rogen, there is no blank stare or meaningless reflection to Streisand.

Screenwriter Dan Fogelman apparently wrote the movie based on a road trip he took with his mom. According to Streisand and Rogen, his mother actually participated in a steak eating contest similar to the one in the movie. Knowing that it is partially based on a true story helps the movie feel a little more realistic and relatable. There have been plenty of buddy buddy or whole family road trip movies, but there have not been too many that are solely about a mother and son trek across the country that I can recall. There is a warm feeling to the movie as Andy and Joyce try to relate to each other and see how they can learn and grow from the other person. Streisand really makes the movie work. Her character is far more than just the nagging mother character you would expect her to be. The movie has plenty of heart and uplifting moments that I was not expecting by the way the trailer was cut together. It does make you wonder if you would be able to do a road trip with your mother no matter if she is overbearing or not.

RATING: *** 1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)

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