On December 19, 2012 Paramount Studios will release Barbra's nineteenth film, The Guilt Trip, costarring Seth Rogen. Early audience reactions at previews suggest that the film will be a big Christmas hit. The story concerns Andy Brewster (Rogen) who is about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime. He starts his adventure with a quick visit to his mom Joyce (Streisand), who uses all her Jewish mother wiles to persuade him to bring her along for the ride. Across three thousand miles he is driven to distraction by her antics, but over time he comes to realize that they have more in common than he thought.
The screenwriter Dan Fogelman told The Jewish Journal that the movie is “completely about my mom.” Fogelman's mother, also named Joyce, died at age sixty several years ago. “I took a cross-country road trip with my mother four years ago, before she got sick, as research for a film I wanted to do about a mother and son going on [such a] trip together,” Fogelman said. “We drove from New Jersey to Vegas, so it was basically being locked in a car with your mom for two weeks.
“The autobiographical parts of the movie are two-fold: One, the character Barbra plays—not her story, but her character type—is very much based on my mom. She collects frogs almost religiously (my mom had always collected frogs); she’s obsessive about drinking six bottles of water a day and about Weight Watchers; and she’s got a group of yenta friends that she relies on heavily—that kind of stuff. And then the road trip itself is very much modeled after things that happened to my mom and I on the road. Like, we didn’t think that it would snow in Tennessee, but it did and we got stuck in a blizzard.
“The movie’s theme is basically when you discover that your parent isn’t just a parent but is actually a human being who had a life before you, and the same goes for a mother or a father. It’s the point in their lives when they realize their child is actually a grownup and they have got to let go a little bit. My mom and I were exceptionally close and I really, really dug her. But I couldn’t necessarily start in that place at the beginning of the movie, or the characters would have nowhere to go. So creative liberties were taken with the relationships, as in any movie.”
Originally titled My Mother's Curse,” the movie was filmed in Los Angeles and Las Vegas between May 2 and July 14, 2011. Paramount originally planned to release the film, directed by Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) around Mother's Day of 2012, but after seeing the finished product and getting highly favorable screening reactions, they moved it back, first to November and then to the Christmas season, which is usually reserved for pictures that are expected to do very well at the box-office.
Anne Fletcher pursued Streisand for a year before she agreed to play Joyce. “Barbra has a very full life,” Fletcher explained. “But I didn't want to do this with anyone else. Not only did I need her as a director, but her fans needed to see her in something like this.”
Fletcher told Barbra, “There isn't going to be a magic lens for you.'” Explaining, she said, “She is breathtakingly beautiful with a gorgeous body. But she had to wear schleppy mom clothes. Moms of this generation still style their hair and wear makeup, but they want comfort. We had to erase Barbra out of it.”
Despite this, photographs from the movie show Barbra actually looking quite lovely. The poster, with the great tag line “Get ready for the Mother of all road trips,” shows Barbra in profile, and she looks forty.
“Barbra was one of the reasons I was interested,” Rogen said. “If she wasn't in it, I probably wouldn't have done it with someone else. She is going to kill me for saying this, but when you meet her, she acts like a lot of Jewish mothers. I think she is the blueprint for every Jewish mother I've met over the last 30 years.”