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The Independent Critic

Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand, Kathy Najimy, Adam Scott, Colin Hanks, Dale Dickey
Anne Fletcher
Dan Fogelman
Rated PG-13
95 Mins.

 "The Guilt Trip" Mostly Worth the Journey 
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You know right now if you will enjoy The Guilt Trip.

Do you love Barbra Streisand?

You will enjoy The Guilt Trip.

Do you love Seth Rogen?

You will enjoy The Guilt Trip.

Do you love road trip flicks?

You will enjoy The Guilt Trip.

While The Guilt Trip doesn't quite add up to the sum of all its parts, the film is a breezy and mostly entertaining comedy made all the better thanks to a relaxed and winning chemistry between its co-leads, Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand. The two play a mother and her adult soon who take off on an eight-day road trip from New York to San Francisco so that Rogen, playing an organic chemist who devises a cleaning product that is so pure you can drink it, can hold a series of pitch meetings in an effort to sell his product and, as well, secretly so he can try to get his mother to meet up with her first love.

The marketing for The Guilt Trip isn't quite spot on, a fact that likely squelched the early buzz that Streisand had for a potential Oscar nomination. That's a shame, really, because while her performance may not be quite award-worthy, this is the best cinematic Streisand we've seen in quite some time. Streisand's in her 60's now, and it's that maturity that really brings her character to life in a way that's more relaxed and authentic than we typically see from Streisand. Of course, it helps that she and Rogen do have a remarkably believable mother/son chemistry that makes their banter funny in the most natural of ways. While The Guilt Trip has quite a few laughs, they are heartfelt laughs borne out of real life situations rather than laughs that feel like they were plugged into a screenplay simply for comic effect.

Rogen, as well, just keeps getting better. He's been proving himself as of late, stretching and growing as an actor while also having good insight about his limitations. This is a terrific role for Rogen, a weaving together of his "guy next door" charm with touches of genuine goodness and delightful hints of that awkwardness a young man feels as he grows into the adult he's supposed to be and realizes that much of who he is happened because of who raised him.

Those who prefer Rogen's bawdier side won't be as happy here, with The Guilt Trip more likely to satisfy as a mother/son or family friendly outing for the holidays. The film is directed by Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses, The Proposal) and written by Dan Fogelman (Crazy Stupid Love), and it's clear from early on in the film that both Fletcher and Fogelman figured out how to take a familiar formula and make it feel at least modestly fresh.

The Guilt Trip also features an appearance by the always delightful Kathy Najimy along with Adam Scott, Colin Hanks and Dale Dickey, who can do amazing things with even the most brief of appearances.

If you're looking for a light and entertaining film that the whole family will enjoy this holiday season, there will be no guilt to be found with The Guilt Trip.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
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