The Guilt Trip
Directed by Anne Fletcher
Starring: Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand
As predisposed as I am to welcoming Barbra Streisand’s return to acting with open arms, this is a role she could ace in her sleep, that of a pernickety mother eager for her boy to settle down and find a nice girl. The surprise here is that she and Seth Rogen (as her inventor-of-sorts son) have a winning chemistry together, their exchanges of banter making the utmost out of a fairly mediocre script. The road-trip narrative – used so often as a tool to force two people to identify with each other – plays out as schematically here as it ever has, but the film at least has some markedly interesting quirks; a recurrent joke involving a hook Streisand uses to keep her purse from becoming dirty is an amusing aside, while the practical influence she has on her son’s sales approach handily emphasises the strengths of both their characters. The film aims to reel in its audience through traditional Route-66 stamps, breaking out the 2-D stereotypes along the way, and makes the mistake of trying to reconcile past issues involving Streisand’s character in one late, cloying scene. That it finds an identity amid an abundant use of cliché at least makes “The Guilt Trip” not an entirely wasted journey.