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Mother-Son Guilt Trip

Courtney Cox | Thursday, January 17, 2013


Anyone who has ever returned home from college for a long break with their parents probably knows how much moms love being moms. With so much physical space between them and their offspring they have tons of pent-up nagging that they just can’t stop themselves.

“Guilt Trip” is for anyone who has ever resented the microscope that is living with parents.

Seth Rogen plays Andy Brewster, the somewhat-dry creator of an all-natural cleaning agent called “Scio-clean.” He returns to his childhood home for a few days before beginning a product tour that would take him from New Jersey through Las Vegas.

His long-widowed mother Joyce Brewster, played by Barbara Streisand, has a solid group of girlfriends but after realizing how alone she is without a man in her life, Andy begins to feel guilty for never returning home after college.

To make up for lost time he invites her along on his road trip, and what ensues is essentially a 90-minute summation of any parent-child relationship.

Once they get going Andy realizes what a huge mistake he has made. Between Joyce’s insistence that he get every bargain possible, her odd choice of in-car entertainment and her obliviously embarrassing habits, Andy is clearly the portrait of silent suffering.

As they go on in their journey Andy learns tricks that help improve his business pitch and he teaches Joyce that she needs to open up her life for new men to come into her life and make her happy once again.

The movie was almost universally ripped to shreds by critics, but it does have something that tends to be overlooked by most of the people who panned it. It’s charming in a way that many family comedies haven’t been able to pull off.

It captures the love between a family despite all the times it might seem appealing to have parents who are quiet and essentially not obnoxious.

Streisand and Rogen have chemistry perfectly akin to any overbearing mother and her son. He is polite and reserved, never losing his patience with her misplaced concern until it becomes altogether too much.

What I was most nervous about going into the film is that Streisand would be forced to play an entirely unlovable shrew with very few redeemable qualities. Luckily it was quite the opposite.

She was just like any normal mother who wants the best for her son.

The supporting cast was intentionally weak. There were truly no standout characters aside from Rogen and Streisand and that made the bond between them much more apparent.

The story itself may not have been groundbreaking. That’s true. But that was never the intention. It wasn’t a piece of high cinema, but instead a lighthearted silly movie about how hard it is to be a parent when your kids leave the nest and on the flipside how hard it is to be an adult when your parents just want you to stay a kid forever.