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The Guilt Trip

In the early 1970s, Esquire ran a cartoon piece imagining how celebrities of the day might age and rating them as “good” or “bad” old people. Barbra Streisand was put in the latter category, drawn as a jewel-bedripped dowager. She’s now 70, and on the evidence of The Guilt Trip she has aged pretty well, certainly if you compare her to any of her contemporaries. (Jane Fonda springs to mind.) While playing a character somewhat younger than her actual age, she inhabits her years gracefully, confidently, and amusingly.

Though apparently based on an incident in the life of screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Fred Claus), the movie’s premise couldn’t be any more generic: a widowed mother and her adult son reconnect during a cross-country trip. The son is Andy (Seth Rogan), who is trying to market an organic cleaning product he has invented. He’s driving cross-country to meet with wholesalers. Mom thinks Andy has invited her along so that they can spend more time together, (they live on opposite coasts), but he’s really hoping to hook her up with an old boyfriend he has tracked to San Francisco.

The plot is pretty ephemeral; all there is to this mild little wisp of a movie is the chemistry between Rogan and Streisand, who work well together. There aren’t many laughs bigger than a chuckle, and it doesn’t start to gel until about halfway through. It’s not unpleasant and certainly inoffensive (one scene is set in a “topless” bar so chaste you could take a nun there), which alone will make it the number one pick of many families this week.

Watch the trailer for The Guilt Trip

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