Imagine sitting in an economy car with your mother for a weeklong road trip across the nation.
Now imagine that your mother is Barbara Streisand who is the embodiment of the cloying, stereotypical Jewish mother. She means well but acts without thinking of the consequences of her actions.
I watched Guilt Trip, a cringe-inducing comedy from the director responsible for generic romantic comedies like 27 Dresses and The Proposal, wincing through my fingers in the same way I would watch some of Steve Carrell’s more epic moments on The Office. The problem is that Guilt Trip never really comes through with the funny or the character moments that the TV show provided. Fortunately Guilt Trip is a straightforward (and short) ride so that you don’t linger with this incredibly odd couple.
I saw a great deal of my own mother (though she’ll cut me from her will when she reads this) in Streisand’s performance, and she brings out a recognizable figure of a woman who wants the best for her son though doesn’t exactly know how to express it. Likewise Rogen puts some effort into playing a scientist who doesn’t understand anything about marketing what is, by all accounts, a revolutionary cleaning product he has created. Rather than seeking help from anyone with a modicum of experience in marketing, public relations or sales, Rogen’s Andy forges ahead with the most inept pitch ever crafted.
A film rife with comedic possibilities that squanders them in the most predictable manner possible, Guilt Trip does its best to be a generic film: its biggest success. The odd-couple dynamic is routine and this movie doesn’t break any new ground. A few moments of levity don’t help it escape the uncomfortable morass. Annoying, largely unfunny, and completely predictable, Guilt Trip would disappoint had I any expectations above mediocrity.
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