I have three words for The Guilt Trip: I loved it! And I have four more for the reviewers who have panned it: What are you, nuts? Some of you might think because I’m a Barbra fan that I love everything she does, but that’s not true. I didn’t much like For Pete’s Sake or Funny Lady or Little Fockers. But I did very much enjoy this new film, costarring Seth Rogen as an inventor trying to sell his all-natural cleaning product who invites his yenta of a mother along on a cross-country road trip.
Some critics have claimed that it’s not funny. But I, my companion and everyone else at the showing I attended laughed loudly at the jokes and situations. Barbra and Seth have great comic chemistry--Seth the droll, long-suffering son, Barbra the mother who’s a locomotive of maternal love and advice. The partscould well have been written to best utilize both actors’ strengths. It’s no wonder that director Anne Flectcher said she would not have made the film of Dan Fogelman’s script if either star had turned the project down.
Those who are looking for Judd Apatow-style hilarity will be disappointed, but without that expectation the movie is a lot of fun, and so is Barbra. This is the most natural performance she’s ever given; one totally believes her as a Jewish mom from New Jersey who collects frog artifacts and listens to the novel Middlesex in her car. One has only to see the great diva in concert, then this film, to realize how good an actress Streisand really is. But even while playing a mensch she commands the screen with her mere presence. Seth is a laid back dude, and Barbra is a bundle of talkative energy, but they come out even on screen, which is a testament to both of them.
I have a suspicion that The Guilt Trip will prove to be critic-proof, that word-of-mouth will propel it to box-office success. I hope so, because it’s definitely worthy of an audience’s time.