When the previews before the main feature show about as much promise as a toddler would in a university seminar, your hopes for what you paid for on your trip to the cinema certainly diminish. The Guilt Trip is a high-concept film that revolves around a mother named Joyce (Barbra Streisand) and her son Andy (Seth Rogen) as they embark on a (you guessed it!) road trip across the US for Andy’s career.
It’s never a good sign if you leave a supposed ‘comedy’ being able to count the number of times you laughed with just one hand (I tallied three). The first hour or so of The Guilt Trip plays off the same non developing character traits and single archetypal joke. Joyce is the stereotypical, overly-attached mother whose incessant nagging and unwanted presence in her son’s life is a fact oblivious to her. The film continues to regurgitate this one aspect of their relationship, and in no way deals with it with any style or substance.
It’s as if screenwriter Dan Fogelman conjured up a single sentence for the bond between the two protagonists, then when he could write no more, just decided to rearrange the words of this sentence, hoping nobody would ever notice. The writer’s intentions was to be annoying yet funny, but the way the mother and son interact is annoyingly unfunny. It honestly felt as if my brain cells were being violated by hearing the same joke over and over again.
To be more optimistic, The Guilt Trip certainly leaves its worst qualities in the first half of the film. Midway through their trip, they refuel and begin to gain some momentum that makes the 95 minute journey considerably more tolerable, and my desire to punch the unlikable characters did in fact decline. The humour begins to become less one-dimensional but still can only manage to extract a minute amount of audience laughter. Nonetheless, this is most definitely what the picture needed following its motionless first half; the successor provides more instances of cheap amusement that keep you engaged enough to appreciate the minor modest revitalisation in cinematic quality. One way to have fun throughout The Guilt Trip is to try and guess the punch line of every joke during the time that the set up is being told. This is probably the only feeling of accomplishment one could obtain from their time experiencing the film.
The Guilt Trip is not a dreadful film by any means, but nor is it a good one. This is easily the least entertaining and most forgettable Seth Rogen film that his catalogue of comedies has to offer. It’s predictable, it’s a comedy without humour and the only thing that could make some of the jokes more awkward (not in a good sense) would be if Barbra Streisand’s character was sitting beside you, behaving in her annoying role. The only reason I would have for recommending you devote your time and money to this ‘comedy’ would be if you desire to occupy 90 minutes and have no better options. Even then, I would suggest waiting until a Wednesday to use your Orange code and throw in your student card for extra discount, as full admission price would almost unquestionably make you feel a sense of guilt for making the trip.