Review: The Guilt Trip
PLOT: Andy (Seth Rogen) a broke inventor, invites his widowed mother Joyce (Barbra Streisand) on a cross-country road trip- where he plans to push his new cleaning product, and reunite her with her long-lost first love.
REVIEW: There's simply no excuse for THE GUILT TRIP being as bad as it is. It should have been an easy-win. Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen together as mother-and-son, on a cross-country road trip with pits stops in Vegas and the South? Even if the idea of those two together doesn't appeal to you, Rogen's a funny enough guy that you'd have to assume there was something in Dan Fogelman's script to make it worthwhile. Especially with his old writing partner Evan Goldberg (who's never done anything that wasn't at least kinda funny) and none other than Lorne Michaels producing.
Nope- sorry folks, THE GUILT TRIP is strictly bottom-the-barrel. I'd call it this year's LITTLE FOCKERS, but really- it's not even memorable or bad enough to inspire that kind of hate. Rather, it's just another lame, bottom-of-the-barrel comedy- the kind Rogen would usually make fun of (if he didn't only star, but also executive produce that is).
This is probably the worst mother-son story since STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT, with Rogen's ne'er-do-well inventor being thoroughly unlikable right from the get-go, and Streisand's over-the-top caricature of a mother being so annoying you'll literally be counting down the minutes until it ends. At one point, I glanced at my watch certain that the film was coming to an end, as it felt like I had been watching it for an eternity. To my horror, I realized I had only been watching it for twenty-minutes.
I'm not exaggerating when I say THE GUILT TRIP has zero laughs, as I literally didn't crack a smile once. Tellingly, the people around me who were watching the free screening didn't seem to be laughing either. Rogen toned down doesn't really work, as he comes off as bland, while Streisand seems game but has nothing to work with. It's just a safe, vanilla comedy through and through- which would have been OK if at least it has some genuine emotion in it. Rather, even when it tries to lay on the schmaltz it just feels cynical and fake. This is the kind of premise a director like Lynn Shelton or The Duplass Brothers could have made soar for one hundredth of the budget. Here- it's just absolutely mind-numbing and lame.
If within five minutes of the film starting you don't know exactly how this is going to pan out, you haven't seen many movies. Anyone wanna bet smart-ass Rogen will learn to appreciate mom? And that mom will learn to treat her son like a man? Or that she'll meet a potential new love interest (at a steak-eating contest, which is the closest this comes to a set-piece)? Ho-hum.
It's puzzling that this is as bad as it is. Road movies are one of the easiest genres to pull off. Too bad director Anne Fletcher and writer Dan Fogelman seem to have no idea how to make one, as all the things that make the genre interesting, including interesting locations, and characters- never show up. Even a brief cameo by the usually hilarious Adam Scott is played completely straight. Why?
For me, THE GUILT TRIP was eighty-five minutes of sheer agony. I absolutely despised it, and my only fear is that somehow this does well enough at the box office to allow for- God forbid, a follow-up. This is a rare total flop for Rogen, and hopefully some kind of fluke. This is one to avoid folks. Like the plague.