THE GUILT TRIP is a mother-son road comedy (mom-com?) starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, which is a sentence I felt confident I'd never have to write until recently. Rogen plays a schlubby, romantically challenged biochemist determined to pitch his revolutionary cleaning product to distributors across the country. Barbra Streisand plays his schlubby, romantically challenged mother. They go on a road trip.
Is this a Barbra Streisand movie with Seth Rogen in it? Or a Seth Rogen movie with Barbra Streisand in it? (It seems inconceivable that they could really share billing or, for that matter, a significant audience demographic.) In the interests of science, and because I am not history's greatest monster, I invited my mother to the press screening to see which one of us would like it better.
And... we both liked it about the same. Well played, Hollywood! The Guilt Trip isn't a great movie, but it's not terrible. "Just so-so" was my mom's verdict. I thought it was a sweet but watered-down Apatow clone. "Apatowesque," I guess, but without the bite you'd expect from the real thing. My mom had difficulty taking Babs seriously as a middle-class empty-nester. I didn't buy Seth Rogen as a biochemist.
That said, you could do worse: If you like Rogen's shtick, which God help me I do, he puts his running mumbly patter to good use. And while Streisand turns it up to 11, her mom stuff feels like real mom stuff: she likes Pilates, outlet stores, and ordering salad dressing on the side. It's a fairly grounded performance, all things considered.
And like I said, it's sweet. There's a nice little moment where a Nashville stripper helps our heroes change a tire. It's a movie with a stripper in it that you can totally see with your mom, which is another sentence I never expected to type.