The Guilt Trip

Here’s my guess: Gazillions of Jews will flock to the theaters on Christmas Day, only to find Les Miz (and maybe Lincoln) completely sold out. Feeling all verklempt, they will scan the alternate options and land on The Guilt Trip, a harmlessly entertaining road-trip comedy starring the unlikely pairing of Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand. If both stars manage to attract their disparate fan-bases, the film may do okay. Both characters are actually quite relatable in the most familiar, funny and uncomfortable of ways. I suspect that every parent of adult children – and every adult child –will recognize at least some part of themselves in this Jewsome-twosome.

Rogen plays Andy Brewster, a guy who ends up taking his long-widowed mother Joyce on an eight-day, three-thousand-mile, cross-country road trip from New Jersey to San Francisco. He’s hoping to find a buyer for his new invention – an organic cleaning solution called Sci-Clean. Andy’s lined up a bunch of appointments with marketing execs at places like Costco, Wal-Mart and HSN (or maybe it’s QVC – I forget). Anyway, Andy has an ulterior motive for inviting his meddlesome Mom along, but she doesn’t know that. So off they go – on a journey that is (of course) fraught with an array of unexpected challenges that are bound to teach both mother and son something new about themselves and each other.

The trailer gives you the gist of the jokes. Some hit, some miss. But overall, The Guilt Trip does a good job of capturing that push and pull between embarrassment, mortification, love and respect that every parent and child must endure and embrace over time. You’ll be laughing (and cringing) with them, not at them.

A cross-country road trip is the perfect vehicle for comedy and adventure – in the movies and in real life. Trust me, I’ve been there. Several times. They are a blast, provided you choose your “carpanions” carefully. That said, I don’t think I’d pick Babs for a co-pilot. Turns out, she only agreed to do the movie if it were shot within a stone’s throw (okay, 45 minutes) of her Malibu digs. Her loss. And ours too – since CGI and Hollywood special effects are no substitute for the real thing… like the real Grand Canyon. Green screen doesn’t quite cut it, or capture it. Oh well.

The Guilt Trip isn’t going to make a run at the Best Picture Oscar. But it’s fine for what it is… a sweet, funny 95-minute-long comedy adventure for adults. Don’t feel too guilty if you miss it though. It’s the type of flick that will play just fine as a rental or airplane movie – perhaps en route to a visit with the folks.

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