Seth Rogen plays Andy, a 30-ish inventor who is trying to peddle an environmentally friendly cleaner, but obviously is better at mixing chemicals then selling his product to big-box retailers. He is the kind of guy on his last coin, who has poured everything into his dream of selling a product he invented. He tucks the still-attached J.Crew prices tag into the pocket of his new blazer (might want to return that later), but still is like a fish out of water as he tries to shill his product, awkwardly named “Scioclean” (like science! and clean!), to the blank-faced suits.
He flies home to visit his fussing long-widowed mother Joyce (Barbra Streisand, in full stereotypical New York overbearing mother vibe) before starting a cross-country sales road trip, and on a whim (triggered by a story from her past) decides, against his better judgment, to invite her along. They squeeze into a (cheap) tiny rental car and hit the road.
Even while wearing velour track suits, it is never quite convincing that Joyce is a schlubby domesticated senior that hasn’t been on a date in 20 years. When Joyce decides to let her hair down, she instantly turns into glamorous Barbra Streisand. But Babs is still a hoot. The motor-mouth repartee between her constantly-poking mom to Rogen’s wincing and ever-embarrassed Andy will make anyone with a mom giggle in recognition.
Rogen may pretty much have one expression through the film (he sucks in his lips, making his face look like a clenched fist), but he is a surprisingly good match for Streisand. Who would have thought? And, really, what’s NOT to like about seeing Barbra’s Joyce trying to scarf down a 4-pound piece of meat in a roadside Texas steakhouse?
The Guilt Trip won’t change your life, nor is it groundbreaking or even outstanding in the road trip genre. But I was surprised that it made me laugh. And it is hard to knock a well-meaning comedy for that.