The last time we saw Barbara Streisand in a leading role was back in 1996, when she starred opposite Jeff Bridges in comedy-drama The Mirror Has Two Faces. Now, seventeen years later, she’s making a comeback, and her first substantial role in over a decade finds her standing opposite funny man, Seth Rogen, in the latest road-trip comedy, The Guilt Trip.
Brought to us by the director of 27 Dresses and The Proposal, Anne Fletcher, and scripted by Dan Fogelman – of Crazy Stupid Love fame – The Guilt Trip disappoints and fails to provide a promising ground for the veteran actress to stage her long-awaited comeback.
After creating, what he believes to be the perfect – and completely harmless – home cleaning product, Andy Brewster (Rogen) flies home to visit his long-widowed and overbearing mother, Joyce (Streisand) before he heads off on a cross-country road trip, where he will try and pitch his creation to various retailers around the country.
During his visit, Andy realises that his mother needs a man in her life and after tracking down her ex boyfriend – whom he is actually named after – at an advertising firm in San Francisco, he invites her along for the trip, hoping he’ll spring an unexpected romantic reunion.
The idea of pairing Streisand and Rogen together in a film seems like something that was thought of after a night of heavy drinking. It just doesn’t work; Hollywood royalty vs. Hollywood jester.
Granted, the film has, what some would say, ‘funny’ moments, but the jokes never manage to build on one another. Instead, they’re delivered in an oddly serious and somewhat linear way. Lacking emotion and some serious drive, it’s hard to believe that, given their past comedic efforts, neither the director nor the screenwriter execute have managed to put together good road-trip comedy.
Streisand, at seventy years old, seems game and shows no signs of slowing down as she rises up to the challenge of tackling the role of a highly neurotic and overly protective mother. She doesn’t look a day over fifty, even close up, and although she goes a little overboard sometimes, you can’t help but love her. Rogen on the other hand, is completely lifeless. He ends up aiming for a more subtle approach, which sadly, just doesn’t pass the grade.
Sloppy, unoriginal and lazy, The Guilt Trip, despite what its trailer might tell you, is not a fun ride.