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The Guilt Trip - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
The Guilt Trip
Directing: B-
Acting: B-
Writing: C
Cinematography: B
Editing: C+

If you wonder if Barbra Streisand can really be funny, just find an old movie from 1972 called What's Up, Doc? Her character is kind of annoying but she is funny. It's a bit of a forgotten gem from forty years ago.

Forty years from now, no one is going to be saying that about The Guilt Trip -- unless there's some new widespread trend of screenwriters writing movies that are homages to their mothers.

No disrespect to Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love), whose intentions are noble in honoring his own mother this way. The Guilt Trip is loosely based on a similar road trip across country he had with his own mom. Something tells me his mom was a little bit different from Barbra Streisand, but apparently that scene where she eats a gigantic steak is one of the things that really happened.

It's just too bad this movie isn't funnier. Barbra Streisand can be funny, and we all know Seth Rogan can be. So why does this movie deliver so few genuine laughs? Was it not supposed to be a comedy? That's certainly how it's been marketed. The best laugh I got was a gag during the end credits.

At least this one, at 95 minutes, wasn't too long. I'd kind of hate it if this were stretched past the two-hour mark. You can only take so much of a grown man sitting in a car with his overbearing mother. That said, editing alone can make or break how well the story is told in a movie, and a few extended takes during the end credits reveal that this could have been a least a little better had it been edited differently. One wonders how these choices are made: one exchange of dialogue preserved; the other left cut out.

The story is pretty straightforward: Andy (Rogen) is visiting his mom (Joyce) in New Jersey, about to travel from there to Las Vegas on a tour to try selling his new invention, a "green" household cleaner that is not at all poisonous. He has a tendency to pitch it in all the wrong ways, and what we find to be the right way is something we see coming a mile away. In any case, after Joyce reveals to Andy that he was actually named after a first love who came before his father, Andy tracks him down and decided to try and get him and his mom to meet again. So, he invites her along on this road trip.

Joyce insists on listening to a novel on tape about a hermaphrodite. We're treated to a few excerpts from this novel. It sounds terrible.

To be fair, there's a lot of movies out there that have some redeeming value if you look for it, but are still excruciating to sit through. The Guilt Trip is not excruciating -- it's not terrible. But is it good? Eh. It's average at best. This is a movie with great amounts of potential that never get realized. In the hands of the right director, the right editor, maybe even the right writer, this could have been far better. In any event, it could have been much funnier. Anyone coming to this movie expecting a barrel of laughs is going to be disappointed.

the guilt trip

Overall: C+
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