'Guilt Trip' not a good movie but the acting is guilty pleasure

December 19, 2012 

A mom and son criss-crossing the nation in a car is a new twist on an old genre. Cross-country road movies are usually reserved for college kid comedies or guys in buddy-cop flicks.

The new concept works - and it doesn’t.

Barbra Streisand - who gets top billing - and Seth Rogen are Joyce and Andy, a mom and chemist son traveling across country and hitting a few big cities and even bigger corporations to peddle his environmentally-friendly cleaning product Scioclean. Joyce is along because Andy needs her connection to an old beau who owns a big PR and marketing firm.

She doesn’t know that’s the reason, or that they’ll visit the old boyfriend.

Comedy comes via ironing out the difficult mom/son relationship and from Andy’s pathetic presentations and bits about corporate honchos having problems pronouncing the product name.

None of it is that funny. Or even that good. But forget the plot. The acting and a nice, unseen twist at the climax are what makes The Guilt Trip go.

Outside of doing a couple of small parts in two of the Focker movies, Streisand hasn’t done much since her last starring role in 1996’s The Mirror has Two Faces. She should do more. Streisand is an exceptional and charismatic actress who gives real depth to a very shallow character.

As we learned from her early career roles, no one babbles better than Babs. She’s the perfect, controlling, nagging mom. Rogen is basically along for the ride. He does the straight man and anchors Streisand’s antics. Rogen, too, is very good and is the rare comic actor who knows and understands how to underplay a role and stay within character.

The bottom line: The Guilt Trip is guilty pleasure.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Director: Anne Fletcher

Stars: Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It is playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at the Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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