The Guilt Trip

5 Overall Score
Visuals: 5/10
Plot: 3/10
Casting: 7/10

Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand have strong chemistry as mother and son.

Many plot holes, mistakes, and cliches plague the film.

I’m a big Seth Rogen fan, so when I saw that he was starring in a comedy about going on a road trip with his mother (Barbra Streisand), I was a bit intrigued. Having not seen any films starring Streisand, I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was a mixed bag of feelings – some great, some fair, and some very negative. Though it’s got a heartwarming message and some funny moments here and there, The Guilt Trip is full of many aching problems that bring it down to a less-than-impressive level.

My expectations weren’t extremely high, but I hoped for a movie that was laid-back and enjoyable for what it is. And that’s basically what I got. The idea is simple: two family members try to bond on a road trip. Rogen, a scientist-turned-entrepreneur from California, is struggling to sell his newly approved product, Scieoclean (yes, that’s pronounced scie-o-clean). After visiting his mother on the East Coast, Rogen decides to take her on a trip across the country as he tries to sell Scieoclean to businesses in several large markets, including Tennessee, Texas, and Las Vegas. At the same time, he’s secretly trying to reunite her with a past lover who resides in San Francisco, the last stop on the duo’s trip.

Now the problem I had with this film was the road trip plot itself. The trip – and much of the story – just feels dry. Rogen and Streisand are exploring a lake that no longer contains any water. The entire genre of road tripping and cross-country family bonding is shriveled up. But with the type of movie they are working with, Rogen and Streisand do a fair job of making it entertaining. Most of the enjoyability of the film comes from these two characters, and especially some of the encounters they have on their journey. Rogen’s character feels real and genuine, and his relationship with his mother in the film reminds me a lot of my family. I can tell that’s what the film went for – bringing in the same annoyances many people have with their relatives. This is what I enjoyed most about The Guilt Trip: it’s trite and unoriginal, but it’s relatable and feel-good.

Another big flaw with this movie is that it’s overwhelmed by mistakes – in both script and plot elements. I won’t point out individual things, but the film seems a bit uneven at times as far as the story goes. Where does Rogen live? Who is Streisand’s husband, or ex-husband? Where does she live? Many cliches also drag down the movie, such as family disagreements and forgettable conversations about love. In addition, the entire plot seems a bit restrained and is practically spoonfed to the viewer; the conflict, climax, and resolution are put into a little box for easy digestion. While a lot of the lines from Rogen and Streisand are quite funny and the heart of the movie makes up for a lot of the problems, they don’t quite prevent the flaws from taking over.

The Guilt Trip is a film that won’t leave you with much. You won’t ponder its themes or its characters. In fact, you may not think about it at all. And that’s because it falls in with many other forgettable films. It doesn’t do anything to set it apart from other movies, but at least it’s not pretentious or greedy. Besides, it’s a fun 90 minutes that features some funny moments and a charming message. If you are a film buff, you’d be better off passing on this movie. If you are a casual moviegoer, though, I recommend watching this once – and if possible, with your mother.

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Author: Tim Dodderidge View all posts by
I'm a student at the University of Kansas hoping to major in journalism. I love Christopher Nolan films, eating at Taco Bell, and playing indoor soccer. I also like to watch How I Met Your Mother and enjoy writing poetry.

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