The Guilt Trip

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is an inventor attempting to get his organic cleaning product, ScioClean, in a major retail store. However, each retail store he visits dismisses him before he can end his pitch. After a disappointing sales pitch to K-Mart, he visits his mother, Joyce Brewster (Barbra Streisand), in New Jersey before leaving on a cross-country trip to Las Vegas, lying to her that his pitch ended well so she won’t worry about him. While there she reveals to him that he was named after a boy she fell in love with in Florida named Andrew Margolis, whom she hoped would object to her marriage with Andy’s father. However, he never did and she felt that she never mattered to him afterwards. After a little research, he finds Andrew Margolis is still alive and unmarried living in San Francisco. He invites his unknowing mother on the trip, claiming he wants to spend some time with her.

The road trip quickly becomes hard for Andy as his mother continues to intervene in his life. After their car breaks down in Tennessee Joyce calls Andy’s ex-girlfriend Jessica (Yvonne Strahovski) (who Joyce insists Andy should get back together with) to pick them up. At a pregnant and married Jessica’s house she reveals that Andy proposed to her before college and she turned him down, shocking Joyce, who believed Andy had trouble proposing to women. Andy is glum afterward and Joyce apologizes for calling Jessica, which Andy half-heartedly accepts. In Texas Andy has a meeting with Costco executive Ryan McFeer (Brandon Keener) however Joyce stays at the meeting and criticizes the products bottling and name along with Ryan to the point that Andy snaps at him, saying “I’m not changing the goddamn label Ryan!” At the motel that night a depressed Andy begins drinking and Joyce attempts to make up with him however Andy snaps at her, only to have Joyce snap back and leave for a nearby bar. Later Andy attempts to retrieve his mother but gets in a fight with a bar patron who attempts to stop her from leaving, receiving a black eye in the process. At a steak restaurant the next day the two exchange apologies and Andy reveals that he is failing at selling ScioClean. Joyce enters a steak eating challenge where she is noticed by cowboy-styled businessman Ben Graw (Brett Cullen), who gives her tips on eating and helps her finish the challenge. Afterwards he reveals he does a lot of business in New Jersey and asks her to dinner. Joyce, who has never been in a relationship after Andy’s dad died when he was eight, balks at the offer so Ben merely leaves his number and asks her to call if she reconsiders. Andy and Joyce begin to genuinely enjoy each other’s company after, taking time out of their trip to visit the Grand Canyon (which Joyce has always wanted to visit) and having many other adventures.

At Las Vegas Joyce has such a good time that she asks Andy to leave her while he visits San Francisco, forcing him to reveal that there is no sales pitch in San Francisco and he only invited her to get her to meet Andrew Margolis. Joyce is very distraught as she believed Andy invited her because he actually wanted to spend time with her. He goes to make his pitch at the Home Shopping Network but finds that his science-fact based pitch bores the network’s executives and makes them uninterested. He then sees Joyce in the filming crew and takes her advice by appealing to the Network’s host family safety and drinking his own product, proving that it is organic and safe for children. Afterwards the Network CEO approaches him and shows genuine interest in selling ScioClean on the Network. After a jubilant Andy and Joyce decide to visit Andrew Margolis’s house. However when they arrive they are informed by Andrew’s son, Andrew Margolis Jr. (Adam Scott) (whom Andy mistakenly researched instead of the father) that his father died five years ago. After seeing Joyce’s grief he invites them inside, where he learns that his father and Joyce were close. She asks if Andrew’s father ever mentioned her, but he says he never did as he only confided personal information to their mother, who is away. However he then introduces his sister (Ari Graynor), who is named Joyce after Andy’s mom. Joyce is overjoyed by this as she had previously stated her belief that you name your children after someone you cherished and want to remember. This shatters her belief that she didn’t matter to Andrew and makes her overjoyed. Afterwards they part ways at the LAX Airport; Andy to make his next sales pitch and Joyce back to New Jersey, where she arranges a date with Ben Graw. The two leave content and much closer than they had been.


I think it is the fear of every offspring to be trapped in a car with their parents, let alone on a road trip cross-country! That fear comes to fruition for one man in The Guilt Trip, a play on words of the popular term that many of our parents give to us everytime we call home, but then again, that could just be me.

What is this about?

After Andy Brewster invents a fabulous new organic cleaner, he goes on a cross-country road trip to promote it. His mother, Joyce, comes along for the ride but soon discovers that her son has an ulterior motive: fixing her up with a long-lost flame.

What did I like?

Reasoning. I’ll admit it, I’m a mama’s boy. No shame in that! I’ll do anything for my maternal unit. It warmed my heart to see the reason this guy was taking his mother on a cross-country road trip, to reunite her with the one that got away. Basically, he sacrificed his sanity to attempt at bringing his mother happiness, despite the ulterior motive of getting rid of her, which brings a smile to my face.

Barbara. How can anyone not like Streisand? This may be a bit of an annoying character, but for some strange reason, she’s lovable. Credit part of that to Barbara’s acting ability. She is able to take a character that we, the audience, should detest and despise and make her someone we care about. It takes a real talent to accomplish that feat, without diluting the character.

Woman vs. food. I love the Travel Channel show Man vs. Food. There is just something satisfying about the challenge of 1 man vs these giant food challenges. While they are passing through Texas, Streisand’s character take on the challenge of a 4 lb steak, with all the comes with is. Being a smaller,  older woman it was really quite insane to see her take that challenge, let alone win it! It didn’t really have anything to do with the plot, except she met a man.

What didn’t I like?

Seth. I tend to like Seth Rogen’s roles, but this didn’t resonate with me. Perhaps that has something to do with his constant not so silent protests. Rogen is allowed a little leeway, as is mother is quite the nag, but there comes a point where you remember to respect the woman who gave birth to you.

Nag. As the stereotypical Jewish mom, Barbara shines. However, making her this big of a nag may have been a bit overkill, at least as far as I’m concerned. Not much change is needed to this character, perhaps just pull her back a wee bit and it would be that much better. Instead, I was a little put off by the constant nagging. Was she a mother or a wife?

Tawk. Anyone out there remember “Coffee Tawk” from the Mike Myers generation of Saturday Night Live? Well, it was brought to my attention that this has a lot of SNL people working on it, which leads me to wonder if perhaps this was meant to perhaps be a film for her, complete with a more fabulous Barbara Streisand. Thinking about that, I’m not too sure which is worse, what we have or what could have been.

The Guilt Trip is one of those films meant to make you laugh at awkward situations. There isn’t a more awkward sitch than road tripping with your mother. Having said that, this film, like parents, had flaws and was a bit much in parts, but was still good, yeah good. Would I recommend it? Eh, not so much, but I won’t dissuade you from watching, either.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


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