Starring: Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand, Adam Scott
Director: Anne Fletcher
Running Time: 96 mins
The Guilt Trip is an American film about a man who travels across the country on a series of business pitches, and ends up taking his mother with him along the way.
Although featuring a promising cast in Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, The Guilt Trip doesn’t live up to its potential, due to a generally uninteresting and misguided story that centres on two relatively unlikable characters, as well as the fact that it’s not all that hilarious along the way either.
Despite that, there are a couple of small positives you can take from this film. For one, as poor as the story is in general, it’s not an empty, painfully dull watch. Some of the ideas at the base of the story are potentially interesting, such as the look at the development of a mother-son relationship over the years, as well as the individual troubles each of the generations face.
However, this is an element that plays a part in the film’s weakness. Unfortunately, as potentially interesting as some of the themes are, the film gets stuck between being a comedy and a drama, with the desire to address those ideas causing a major clash of atmospheres throughout.
In fact, it’s fair to say the film has a generally more dramatic feel than a comedic one, and there’s barely any stupid slapstick throughout. However, some of the humour, and in part some of the central relationship, pushes the film towards something a little less serious. As a result, whenever we switch from the more light-hearted side of things to a moment with a little more drama, it creates an awkward transition, and one that unfortunately occurs more than once in the film.
Another issue I had with The Guilt Trip was that its central characters aren’t all that appealing. Road trip movies can be very difficult to get right, with characters often getting on your nerves as much as the people in the film by the end, but here, both of the leads are pretty unlikable from the start.
There’s nothing particularly malicious about them, nor are they overly shrill and irritating, but the pair of them are both rather depressing to follow, and despite the story focusing on the deterioration and the subsequent improvement of their relationship, as a mother-son pairing, they make for a pretty depressing show, and one that doesn’t have the rewarding emotional outcome you’d hope for.
Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand both fail to work to either of their strengths, with an excessively angry turn from Rogen (far more than what his character is meant to be), and a slightly irritating presence from Streisand, the leads don’t manage to bring their talents to the table and save the day.
Overall, I wasn’t much of a fan of The Guilt Trip. Although not an awful film, it’s not at all entertaining, nor is it as emotionally and dramatically riveting as it aims to be, which is why I’m giving it a 5.8.