The Guilt Trip review

In one of the most unusual pairings in recent comedic cinema, The Guilt Trip stars Seth Rogen as Andrew “Andy” Brewster, a struggling salesman and inventor, and Barbra Streisand as Joyce Brewster, Andy’s overprotective, lonesome single mother with whom he constantly bickers but eventually embarks upon a disastrous road trip in order to locate Andrew Margolis, an old ex-boyfriend of Joyce’s and Andy’s unexpected namesake.

Selling a unique brand of cleaning supplies instead of marijuana, Andy Brewster’s professional appearance makes him seem to be a completely different Rogen than the oafish stoner from Knocked Up and Pineapple Express. Though he does keep the nature of their cross-country trek secret from his mother, who instead believes without even asking that Andy finally wants to spend belated quality time with her, Andy is ultimately much more responsible than his predecessors. Here, the more irresponsible and self-absorbed character is that of Streisand, who furthermore is uncontrollably passive-aggressive and suffers from a gambling addiction.

Rogen and Streisand’s characters have the same type of unhealthy, controlling mother-son relationship that has been played countless times in Hollywood, usually with reminiscences of tired Jewish mother stereotypes, but which still gives birth to novelty in several scenes throughout the film. The most original if not memorable scene of all is one in which the Brewsters arrive at a steak restaurant in Texas and order an impossibly large steak out of Man vs. Food nightmares, which Joyce manages to devour within an hour despite Andy’s insistence that she forfeit. Of course, this scene is not recommended to Rogen buffs who hated Streisand ever since the first season South Park episode “Mecha-Streisand” told them to, but then again, neither is this entire movie.

If the title failed to suggest this, The Guilt Trip is not a laugh-out-loud comedy but mostly a dramedy with philosophical undertones regarding the American family. The film’s original title, My Mother’s Curse, demonstrates this aspect much more blatantly, but the film was thankfully renamed, perhaps for that very reason.

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