Being stuck in a car for days on end is enough to drive just about any person insane. Stick your own mother in the passenger seat, and that trip, for many, would turn into a journey bordering on nerve-racking torture.
Paramount Pictures captures the essence of that unpleasant scenario with its newest comedy, The Guilt Trip.
The Guilt Trip is the story of a struggling product developer named Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen). Andy has just returned from Los Angeles to visit his home in New Jersey as he prepares for a cross-country sales tour to pitch his new cleaning formula. Amidst the bombardment of affection from his over-enthusiastic, widowed mother, Joyce Brewster (Barbra Streisand), Andy falls into a situation where he is left with only one, seemingly regrettable option: He has to take his mom on the tour with him.
Packed with upbeat and relatable humor, the film is a bouncing journey from state to state; it is as heart-warming as it is funny. Employing a variety of different angles of humor, there are uncomfortable scenes that make you cringe in your seat, along with a slew of tasteful one-liners that catch you off guard.
Many of the jokes in this film are delivered with a lot of authenticity because they were made up on the spot. Director Anne Fletcher commented on the encouragement of improvised scenes in the development of this film in a recent interview with Campus Circle.
“I’ve been around improv a long time in my life, and these two people [Rogen and Streisand] are insane with it,” said Fletcher. “They can actually speak and listen at the exact same time. So it was always my goal to have that on screen as much as possible because I think it’s magic… These two have a very unique ability that I really loved and wanted the world to see.”
Writer and executive producer Dan Fogelman added, “I’d say the 10 biggest laughs in the film are all stuff Seth and Barbra came up with.”
Rogen commented on the chemistry between himself and Streisand, explaining how the dialogue of certain scenes was the result of a genuine friendship between the two of them.
“The way we talk in real life is not entirely different than our rapport in the movie,” he said. “It’s a lot of me trying to explain things to her about modern times, and her trying to feed me sh** I don’t want to eat.”
Apart from the comedic rapport between Rogen and Streisand, one of the most appealing facets of this movie is the fact that it is relatable. While Streisand does play an over-the-top, arguably exaggerated New Jersey mother, her core idiosyncrasies are indicative of the kind of things that any mother would do. She collects frog memorabilia, she obsessively shops at The Gap, and most importantly, she loves her son, maybe even a little too much. It’s the type of motherly affection that so many of us find irritating, even though none of us can knock it.
Rogen admitted to having a similar experience and relationship with his mom.
“My mom drives me crazy sometimes,” he said. “One of the things I relate to most in the script was just that dynamic where your mother’s trying, and the more she tries, the more it bugs you; and the more it bugs you, the more she tries. And you, like, see her trying to say the thing that won’t annoy you, and she can’t…all that is very, at times, real to my relationship with my mother.”
Streisand admitted to having a similar perspective on her character. As the mother in the story, she is playing a role that is close to her heart. Her passion for being a mom shows on screen as her emotions and reactions are all very real.
When asked about what she wants viewers to take away from the film, Streisand listed, “I want them to be moved. I want them to identify. I want them to see themselves in the movie. I want them to get closer to their children.”
The movie itself is a lot of fun. Rogen presents a character that is refreshingly deep, with a good range of emotion, and Streisand comes off as goofy and loveable. It’s a movie with a quirky storyline and funny relationship.
The Guilt Trip is not meant to be a “Seth Rogen classic” or a “Barbra Streisand classic.” Rather, it’s just a cute, family-friendly movie releasing just in time for the holidays.
Streisand summed it up more elegantly and said, “It’s about love; it’s a different kind of love story.”
Rogen quickly added, “To me, [that] sounds gross.”
The Guilt Trip is currently playing in theaters.