Not a Guilty Pleasure, But A Fun Trip!

Guilt Trip

 Have you received constant calls from your mother?  Can you remember a day when she didn’t leave a message asking you a million questions?  Does she happen to bring back embarrassing memories or personal stories that nearly push you to the edge of screaming?  Now would you take this person on a road trip with you?  If the answers to most of these questions are yes, then have I got a movie for you.  That’s right I’m here with my latest review on the latest comedy The Guilt Trip starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen.

Now if you’re like me you might wonder just how these two were paired together.  I’m still wondering the answer to that question, but the good news is this combination works.  Both Rogen and Streisand have a good chemistry in this movie as their characters came to life on screen.  Starting with the leading lady first, Ms. Streisand nailed the part of the overprotective mother who just can’t let go of her beloved son.  Her clinginess, overzealous nature to make suggestions, and constant recollection of the “good” times were all told in a manner similar to how my own mother acts, trying to look out for my best interests, but crossing the threshold into that annoying level.  For me, Streisand didn’t seem to try too hard to play this role, though there were a few points where they stretched her character a little too much for me.  Rogen as well did a nice job trading his idiotic stoner character for one that was more lax, serious, and still just as entertaining.  No longer relying on a bong as his main prop, Rogen surprised me with this role as he relied on Barbara as his springboard for his character.  This devoted son trying to save his sanity was a role I could relate to, heck throw in the organic chemistry background and you essentially have me.  Regardless Rogen used his emotions and facial expressions to drive the character and deliver the fun dialog that gave his character potential.   To sum it up the acting is good and this duo was entertaining to watch.

The acting wasn’t the only thing  I liked about this movie though.  My second strength is the dialog between the two.  Most comedies these days go overboard writing lines that are filled with massive amounts of swearing, constant hits on some ethnicity, or a million one liners for describing sex/penis.  This is not the case in the Guilt Trip.  I felt this movie was more representative of a real conversation using awkwardness and natural embarrassment to make you laugh.  At various points in the move, the audience and I were laughing as the mother brought up unique and embarrassing stories that were so awkwardly phrased.  However, some of these jokes also added a little character background information to explain why things had become so weird between the two and on so many levels.  Yet what I think also helped make the dialog funny, was the fact that Rogen was also given a lot of opportunities to be sarcastic.  Some of my biggest laughs came not from the words themselves, but the way Rogen delivered it.  His “I can’t believe you just said that” tone, added  some character to the lines that, to be a broken record, made the lines more relatable to me.  I couldn’t help but think of either my friends or I reacting in the same manner, which for this reviewer makes the lines more fun.  If you don’t relate your memories to movies, than the fact that Rogen is a jerk with his sarcasm may tickle your funny bone as well, but that’s for you to decide.

What are other strengths of this movie?  To start this hodge podge collection of strengths off, it’s a cute and fun movie.  This awkward trip you know is not going to be the best, but the mini adventures they take have a good feeling with them that can’t help but make you smile.  Those worried about this movie taking a turn down ridiculous situations like the two driving their car in the river, or blowing up a hotel have no need to worry as this movie tries to stay on the real world line as much as possible.  Perhaps another big plus for me is that this movie also has a good positive vibe to it, which is perfect for the holiday season.  I can’t go into much detail, but I feel most audience members will be pleased with the good vibes this movie puts out and the messages they offer one to take.

Yet like many movies there are some weaknesses that bring this tales score down.  This movie is pretty simplistic when it comes to story.  Yes there are some good character development aspects of this story, but it lacks some depth and pizazz that I was hoping to see.  With this simplicity comes some predictable plot lines that one can see coming if you moderately pay attention to the duo’s arguments.  The movie also leaves you with a few loose threads that would have been nice to tie up, but I do acknowledge that if you can’t integrate smoothly in the movie, it shouldn’t be shown.

The Guilt Trip is a fun movie that many couples, groups, or solo guys like me would enjoy.  Streisand and Rogen were a good duo, whose characters were so much fun to watch and laugh at.  Is it Oscar material?  Not really, but if you like sarcastic, fun, and branched out comedy then I suggest you give it a try.  Do I think it was worth a trip to the theater?  Unless you have a holiday movie theater trip tradition, probably not, but rent it later when it comes out on DVD.  My scores for this film are below:

Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

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