Icon Barbra Streisand (Joyce) comes out of near retirement to help cheer us up this holiday season. She portrays an overpowering Jewish mother to Seth Rogen (Andy Brewster), but she is gentle and kind in this portrait of a mother whom many of us know whether we are Jewish or not. She does not turn this film into a shriek-fest. Their disagreements are subtle and Rogen usually reacts face down or in a I-can't-believe-it expression, but rarely anger or angst.
This is not meant to be a belly laughs comedy, but rather a feel good I've-been-there-with my-mother-many-times comedy. Streisand should have been nominated for a Golden Globe. Pity.
The plot is a about a son who is an inventor and has journeyed from California to visit him mother who is a widow and isolating from seeking a new man. She is terrified to go on a date and feels too old for this and that she has been there done that.
Andy, realizing his mother's isolation, in an act of selflessness invites her on a cross country ride to accompany him to pitch a product he has invented to stores across America. He has invented an eco-friendly cleaning fluid. He also talks to his mother in an intimate manner that had not been before and discovers she was in love with a man before she married his father. Actually he has been named Andy after this man. In our internet age, he googles 'Andy' and finds out he lives in San Francisco.
Joyce's son plans a stop in San Francisco as the focus of his trip to arrange a meeting between his mother and her first love,, but does not tell Joyce hoping to surprise her and fearful she will say no to his brilliant manipulative idea.
Joyce and Andy trek across America with confrontations along the way, but with each confrontation a closer relationship is formed. This film, written by Dan Fogelman and directed by Anne Fletcher, is about healing a relationship.
Lorne Michaels was a producer and kept the humor low key, but steady as you go waiting for Streisand to ruin her son's chance of selling his invention. She tries to fix him up with women and he tries to fix her up with dudes along the way including one who watches her win a contest to scarf down a mammoth four-pound steak and all its accoutrements so that she does not have to pay the 100 bucks for the steak. With each lock-horns-disagreement I found myself rooting for this couple to relate and get on with their lives. And that is just what happens. In a feel good moment.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film and found that it is easy to relate to. At this time in our nation when violence and guns are the mainstay of the plot of so many movies, you will not find them in The Guilt Trip. Rather a loving look at a complex mother/son relationship that heals itself in its own time and how great that you get to watch this journey.
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