DVD Release Date: April 30, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: December 19, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (language and some risqué material)
Genre: Comedy
Run Time: 95 min.
Director: Anne Fletcher
Actors: Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogan, Adam Scott, Julene Renee-Preciado, John Funk, Zabryna Guevara, Kathy Najimy

For anyone keeping track at home, The Guilt Trip is officially actor Seth Rogen’s first PG-13 comedy. Probably best known as the lovable schlump in a slew of Judd Apatow movies including Funny People and Knocked Up, Rogen proves he can still be funny with a far less profane set-up. In fact, he and Barbra Streisand make a pretty affable pair as they criss-cross the country in The Guilt Trip.

In true Streisand fashion, the now 70-year-old singing and acting legend is in her full gawjuss element—Jersey girl accent, long French-manicured nails and all—as Joyce, an overbearing Jewish widow and mother to her romantically challenged son Andrew (Rogan).

Given that they live on opposite coasts (he’s in Los Angeles, she’s still in Jersey), Joyce calls Andrew way more than she should with advice ranging from the importance of proper hydration to what he should be wearing to his upcoming pitch meetings. And just to solidify her status as a meddlesome mama, she regularly offers him unsolicited therapy courtesy from one of her best pals who I’m guessing doesn’t exactly have a PhD in psychology.

That said, it’s probably no surprise that Joyce is happy as can be when her curly-haired pride and joy is in town for a business meeting with K-Mart’s higher ups. As the inventor of a new organic cleaning tonic with a problematic name, Scioclean, Andrew has an opportunity to tell them why they should be stocking his FDA-approved product.

Only trouble is, he’s a chemist so all the technical mumbo-jumbo on why it works so well isn’t exactly resonating with the suits. Really, Andrew’s only hope for getting his passion project off the ground is the remaining meetings he’s got set up elsewhere. Whether it’s Roanoke, Nashville, Las Vegas or somewhere in between, he’s hoping that someone—anyone—will catch his vision. Naturally, Mom is more than happy to offer her proverbial .02 on the matter.

While filling his Mom in on his prospects, a surprising revelation about a past boyfriend he’s named for eventually leads to Andrew inviting her (albeit reluctantly) along for the ride. Of course, this is when things really get interesting as dear ol’ Babs’ quirks—and that’s putting it nicely—start driving Andrew absolutely nuts. From her questionable choice of audio book to the cramped car they’re practically calling home for nine days to cheap hotels and unexpected weather delays, there’s plenty of opportunities for mother-son bonding.

With an enjoyably madcap, we’re-just-making-it-up-as-we-go sensibility, The Guilt Trip truly captures the ups and downs of traveling. The snack runs at sketchy gas stations, the endless stretches of cornfields in the Midwest, the arguments about this and that, it’s all here, and the family element gives it all a special flair.

Like your average sitcom, some set-ups naturally work better than others, but Rogen and Streisand are clearly game for anything—even if it involves ingesting roughly four pounds of beef, a baked potato, side salad and a shrimp shooter at a Texas steakhouse for a free dinner and bragging rights.

Like one of Chevy Chase’s Vacation flicks, the bulk of the laughs here are refreshingly retro. And thanks to director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) who’s great with comedic set-ups and Dan Fogelman (Crazy Stupid Love) who penned the script, there’s also some genuinely heart-warming moments that won’t incite your gag reflux—just in time for Christmas.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking. In one scene, Joyce has a bit too much to drink.
  • Language/Profanity: A handful of uses of sh--, one “f” word, the occasional use of God’s name in vain.
  • Sex/Nudity: None, but there is a bit of discussion about Andrew’s genitalia. One scene takes place in a gentleman’s club in Nashville (there are pole dancers briefly shown in the background). Andrew turns down one girl’s offer for a “private dance.” The book that Andy and Joyce are listening to in the car, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, has a bit of risqué dialogue that makes Andy uncomfortable since he’s in the car with his Mom. While checking into a hotel, there are a couple of jokes about Andy and his mom “being together.”
  • Violence: Only of a comedic variety

Christa Banister is an author and full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

Publication date: December 19, 2012