The Guilt Trip – (2012) PG-13 95 mins

Guilt Trip

UK Release Date 3/8/2013
US Release Date 12/19/2012
Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen

The road movie. Two unlikely travel companions hit the road for simple journey. Sometimes they know each other, sometimes they are forced together against their will. How can these two possibly co-exist? Sound familiar? Inventor Andy (Seth Rogen) is heading on a trip across the country to sell his revolutionary cleaning product. He stops at his mothers house before heading out, and ends up taking mummy dearest (Barbara Streisand) along for the ride. Hilarity is bound to ensue, right? Well….

Do you ever watch a movie and about midway through you think, “Oh, I know I’d rather be watching…?” I call it the Casino effect. Casino is a fine film. It’s visually stunning. The performances are universally excellent, and Scorsese’s direction is running at 99.9% But… at around the 45 minute mark something happens. I don’t know why, but I find myself reaching for the remote and saying, “Okay, I know I’d rather be watching Goodfellas” and within minutes, “Rages to Riches” by Tony Bennett begins to play as Ray Liota declares, “As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster.”

The Guilt Trip a sweet enough comedy, with Rogen and Streisand trading playful blows back and forth. Rogen wears his everyman persona like a glove. In The Guilt Trip, he delivers dialogue in a way that reminded me of a young Woody Allen. It’s natural and so subtle you really have to listen or you’ll miss a good line. Streisand does motherly guilt very well, and manages to give as good as gets. At about 35 minutes though, the film suffers from a massive case of the Casino effect. “Oh, I wish I was watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles”

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. (I’ll remember that when an American takes a stab at my accent. To be fair, most are better than Dick Van Dykes turn in “Mary Poppins”) Wherever you are John Hughes, I hope you’re feeling the flattery. The Guilt Trip owes so much to Planes, Trains and Automobiles and yet the characters seem very two dimensional. Sure there are comedic moments, but the screenwriter seems to think that by having Rogen and Streisand say the words, they’ll make them funnier. Its not the case I’m afraid. The lowest moment for me, was a scene where Streisand goes into a bar and is enticed into a steak eating contest. – Casino effect #2. – Oh, I wish I was watching The Great Outdoors. John Candy, I hope you’re feeling the flattery, wherever¬† you are.

To be fair, The Guilt Trip will appeal to more than a few people. It’s resolution is heartfelt and genuine, and might just reduce your mother or your grandmother to tears. If they start to falter around the 35 minute mark, cue up Planes, Trains and Automobiles. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Goodfellas.

Is this lime worth your time? 5/10 (or for anyone who wants marks out of 5:  2.5/5)

4 Responses to “The Guilt Trip – (2012) PG-13 95 mins”

  • Jeff says:

    Great writeup! I’ll be sure to have Planes, Trains, and Automobiles handy when we watch this.

  • Kedar says:

    I second Jeff. Great write-up! I was wary about The Guilt Trip just from seeing the trailer last year. A writer takes a huge gamble when they try and recreate a story line that’s already been done and done really well (as you mentioned: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, it sounds like it didn’t work out too well.

    Side Note: I really wanna watch The Great Outdoors again.

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