The Guilt Trip, starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, looks like another crass road trip comedy à la Chris Farley. Though it does contain a dash of profanity, it is actually a poignant story about a mother and her grown son and the relational journey they take during a cross-country sales trip.
Barbra Streisand plays an overbearing widow from Jersey who adores her only son Andy (Seth Rogen), smothering him to death with her nagging, her concern with irrelevant minutiae, and her incessant desire to analyze why he’s still single. Rogen, the consummate man-child, assumes the role of an organic chemist who hopes to market his breakthrough cleaning product to big-box retailers.
Before starting his nationwide sales tour, Andy stops in Jersey to visit his mother. While there, he learns that he was named after a young man, other than his father, that his mother had fallen in love with as a young woman.
Though he’s appalled, Andy googles the man’s name, discovering that he works in San Francisco and is still single. To help his mother move on with life, Andy invites her to join him on his trip, intending to take her to San Francisco to reunite with her old flame. She ecstatically accepts, thinking he primarily wants to spend time with her.
Being stuck in a tiny car for eight days forces them to deal with long-standing hurts and teaches them lessons about each other. While this PG-13 film will touch the hearts of parents with grown children and adults with elderly parents, it does contain profanity, sexual references, and an unnecessary, though brief scene in a topless bar.
These elements are not frequent enough to ruin the movie and they are not obscene, allowing the sweetness of the film to shine through.