I wouldn’t call The Guilt Trip a great comedy, but I had a lot of fun watching Barbra Streisand, who effortlessly commands the screen and reminds us what a gifted, natural comedienne she is. As her long-suffering son, Seth Rogen is cast in the role of straight man, and while he’s good, the main reason to see this film is to watch Streisand at work.
Writer Dan Fogelman and director Anne Fletcher don’t make it easy on us, because we have to get past the initial part of the movie, where her character is established as being nudgy and annoying. She’s effortlessly convincing as a New Jersey widow whose habits drive her grown son crazy. A story contrivance inspires him to ask her to join him on a cross-country road trip, during which he calls on a variety of businesses to pitch a newly developed cleaning product. Having his mom along leads to a series of colorful and embarrassing misadventures—some amusing, some silly.
It takes a while to kick in, but once the film gets into gear, Streisand becomes so loose and relaxed it’s a treat to watch her in action. There isn’t much else to be said for this piece of fluff except that it serves as a reminder of what star quality is all about.