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The Guilt Trip: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Review

The Guilt Trip (2012) movie poster The Guilt Trip

Theatrical Release: December 19, 2012 / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Anne Fletcher / Writer: Dan Fogelman

Cast: Barbra Streisand (Joyce Brewster), Seth Rogen (Andrew Brewster), Brett Cullen (Ben Graw), Colin Hanks (Rob), Adam Scott (Andrew Margolis, Jr.), Miriam Margolyes (Anita), Kathy Najimy (Gayle), Nora Dunn (Amy), Yvonne Strahovski (Jessica), Ari Graynor (Joyce Margolis), Jeff Kober (Jimmy), Analeis Lorig (Moonlight), Dale Dickey (Tammy), Brandon Keener (Ryan Mcfee), Pedro Lopez (Hitchhiker), Jeff Witzke (Middlesex Voiceover)

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The Guilt Trip probably represents the only point in time when the careers of Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen synchronize enough to bring them together for a two-hander. Somehow, a PG-13 mother-son road trip comedy seemed like the right move for both entertainers, separated by two generations and distant fan bases.

Music legend Streisand began her film career forty-five years ago with a Best Actress Oscar win. A Golden Globe fixture who graduated to directing and producing, 71-year-old Streisand wields a staggered but respected filmography. Rogen, who just turned 31, emerged as the comedic voice of his generation six summers ago when two of his raunchy R-rated comedies (Judd Apatow's Knocked Up and the Rogen-penned Superbad) were among the year's most successful and acclaimed films. Within two years, doubt began to form over his leading man status and since 2011's The Green Hornet showed him people weren't any crazier about him as fit, sarcastic superhero than as his signature chubby, sarcastic stoner, he and Hollywood have been rethinking his calling.

Based on this trajectory, you might think Streisand was slumming in a desperate attempt to appeal to young people. In reality, though, her filmmaking legacy had been tarnished by her first two 21st century acting credits: playing Ben Stiller's mother in the sequels Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers. The first of those was outrageously successful, though only moderately popular. The second was neither. Thus, a Streisand-Rogen pairing held rebound potential for both of its stars.

With a script by rising Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love., Tangled) and a Christmastime release date, the film seemed destined to do solid holiday season business and vie for some Golden Globes in the Comedy or Musical categories. Alas, Guilt Trip would do neither of those things, grossing a weak $37.1 million on a $40 M budget and picking up just a single award nomination of the undesirable variety (Streisand for the Worst Actress Razzie). Embarrassingly, the night before the Golden Globe nominations were announced, an overconfident Paramount uploaded a promo celebrating the Best Actress nod Streisand actually wouldn't get.

"The Guilt Trip" follows a mother (Barbra Streisand) and son (Seth Rogen) on an eight-day, cross-country road trip.

Fogelman doesn't offer much in the way of originality or complexity here. Andy Brewster (Rogen) lives in California. His long-widowed mother Joyce (Streisand) lives in New Jersey. She fills his voicemail with conversational messages in expectation of a rare visit. Mom likes to question her son about his love life, to his discomfort. Meanwhile, Mom shoots down his reciprocal question by saying she values being single for the ability to enjoy fun size bags of Peanut M&M's immediately before and after bed. When Joyce reveals to Andy that he was named after her first boyfriend, a Florida advertiser who let her get away, Andy does some online sleuthing and tracks this former love to San Francisco.

A bachelor with a Master's in chemistry, Andy is planning to take an eight-day road trip to pitch his creation, a new organic cleaning spray, to major retailers around the country. He decides to make San Francisco the final stop and invites Joyce to join him. Road trip!

That sitcomy premise takes nagging, cost-conscious mother and embarrassed son to sitcomy stops for motel and diner sketches. In snowy Tennessee, Andy's high school sweetheart, now married and pregnant, recalls his rejected teenaged proposal to her. In Lubbock, Texas, Joyce gets an hour on the clock to eat a four-pound steak dinner in its entirety for free (or fail and pay $100). In Las Vegas, Joyce gets the thrill of playing actual slot machines and not just the cell phone equivalents.

Meanwhile, Andy's pitches to the likes of Kmart and Costco are a disaster, with executives not responding to his scientific claims or prop usage while struggling with the product's tough to pronounce name (Scieoclean). Once Joyce suggests some ways to spice up his presentations, you can probably declare with ease where the film is heading and I don't just mean San Francisco.

Andy (Seth Rogen) helps his mother (Barbra Streisand) by cutting the 72-ounce steak she tries to eat in an hour, while an admiring cowboy (Brett Cullen) looks on.

While Fogelman's Crazy, Stupid, Love. did well at the box office, with critics, and most of all with the general public (its 7.4 IMDb rating is virtually unheard of for a romantic comedy), I am more inclined to give it the middle word of its title than the other two. It wasn't all bad, but its reliance on twists and that terribly maudlin and artificial finale tidily sum up what I don't like about Steve Carell's movie career.

While Fogelman poured much more creativity into that layered, ensemble piece, I would say he has more success with this simple, predictable road trip comedy.

Streisand and Rogen, whose age difference is perfectly feasible thus highly unusual for Hollywood comedies, have decent chemistry together and better than you'd expect given the different circles they run in. Rogen's foul-mouthed, drug-based shtick is softened quite a bit, but not enough to defang his comedic chops. He and Streisand are believable representatives of their different generations and they are able to bounce off each other, at times with apparent improvisation.

The material is never any better than a random episode of a mediocre twenty-year-old sitcom, but it's comfort food comedy and the deliveries are good enough to unearth a bit of zest. Many of the beats are defiantly unoriginal: a man insisting on buying Joyce a drink at a cowboy bar, an uncomfortable book on tape, a mini-bar binge blow-up. But enough genuine details (e.g. Joyce's purse hook and insistence on hydration) emerge to distinguish the outing and prevent it from feeling like a dιjΰ vu embodying one of comedy cinema's most exploited conventions.

Though theatrical windows seem to shrink all the time, Paramount wisely opted to withhold The Guilt Trip from home video until just over four full months had passed since the its big screen debut. That enabled the film's DVD and two-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack to hit stores two weeks before Mother's Day, a holiday the studio rightfully thinks of interest given the subject matter and the nature of Streisand's fan base.

The Guilt Trip: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Descriptive Video Service)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Descriptive Service)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; BD film only: English SDH
Extras Subtitled; DVD Closed Captioned
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video


While The Guilt Trip might not be a film from which you demand sensory delight, the Blu-ray's presentation is terrific. The 2.40:1 picture is fittingly clean, vibrant, and sharp. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is suitably crisp and clear, with a bit of activity to complement the main course of dialogue.

Joyce Fogelman attempts the steak challenge in video from screenwriter Dan Fogelman's real mother-son road trip. Choreographer turned director Anne Fletcher can't resist doing a little dance on the set of the later-retitled "My Mother's Curse."


The Blu-ray's all-HD extras begin with "Barbra & Seth" (7:32), a making-of featurette focusing on the leads' chemistry
with interview remarks and behind-the-scenes footage.

"Barbra's World" (8:21) celebrates the leading lady, with cast and crew lavishing praise on Streisand and her collaborative abilities.

"Guilt Trip: Real Mother of a Road Trip" (5:47) explains the autobiographical and verisimilar nature of the film, with reflections and home movies from the actual cross-country mother-son trip writer Dan Fogelman took to fuel his script.

"In the Driver's Seat" (7:15) pays tribute to Jessica Fletcher, the choreographer turned director, whom we see at work.

Short sleeves and an uncovered bald head in the snow are okay when you're making "Not Really a Road Trip Movie" with a snow machine in California. A pre-teen version of Seth Rogen's character does some golden sunlight reading in front of a "Weird Science" poster in one of the two alternate openings.

"Not Really a Road Trip Movie" (5:16) explains how this cross-country comedy was shot entirely in Southern California, with green screen, fake snow, and aerial second unit footage suggesting otherwise.

There are two alternate openings: one, a tender montage of Andy growing up (1:26), and the other, utilizing VHS home movies of his childhood (1:10). An alternate ending (2:08) adds a joke and gives Andy a potential love interest while reinforcing Joyce's.

A gag reel (5:09) compiles outtakes revealing the production's giggly atmosphere and openness to improvisation. As in the other extras, F-bombs are bleeped here. The highlight comes in the end, as Streisand and Rogen talk Green Hornet and Green Lantern.

In the gag reel, Barbra Streisand has a laugh and a look at the camera after realizing non-speaking extras can't respond to her on camera chit-chat. Cut from the actual film, Amanda Walsh and Danny Pudi turn up in this deleted scene.

Finally, we get a hearty collection of twelve deleted scenes (19:23). Expectedly, there's more of Kathy Najimy and Miriam Margoyles, who barely feature in the film. There's also more attempted matchmaking and cut appearances by Casey Wilson ("Happy Endings") and Danny Pudi ("Community").

Sadly, none of Rogen and Streisand's evidently futile December TBS promotional bits are preserved here.
In addition, the Blu-ray holds no trailers for The Guilt Trip or any other Paramount properties.

The DVD included here, identical to the one sold separately, contains no bonus features other than "Previews", which simply repeats the Star Trek Into Darkness, Jack Reacher, and Not Fade Away trailers with which the disc opens. Paramount has subscribed to the trend of devaluing DVD more than any other studio, seemingly altogether doing away with bonus features on the still most popular format. Adding insult to injury here, the DVD only uses 5.28 GB of a dual-layered disc's 8 GB capacity, meaning there is ample room for some of the dropped extras.

The basic, static menu reformats the cover art. The Blu-ray doesn't resume unfinished playback, but does allow you to set bookmarks on the film.

Topped by an unremarkable slipcover, the eco-friendly keepcase's one insert supplies directions and your unique code for downloading the complimentary digital copy and UltraViolet presentations.

Not yet even on the road, Andy (Seth Rogen) and Joyce (Barbra Streisand) begin disagreeing with each other at the car rental counter.


Monday morning quarterbacking makes it easy to declare The Guilt Trip a movie destined to fail by not greatly appealing to fans of either Barbra Streisand or Seth Rogen. This mother-son road trip comedy isn't original or great, but it's a harmless diversion that doesn't claim to be anything more than the feature sitcom it is. Familiar though it may be, the two leads are sharp enough to earn some smiles and chuckles instead of apathy or scorn.

Paramount's Blu-ray combo pack delivers a great feature presentation, all the versatility you could want, and over an hour of high definition bonus features. That should be more than enough for most customers, although the DVD demographic this film lends to might be disappointed to miss out on all that extra content.

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Related Reviews:
New: Silver Linings Playbook • The Details • The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernαndez • Shanghai Noon & Shanghai Knights • Mama
Barbra Streisand: Funny Girl | Seth Rogen: Knocked Up • Superbad • The Green Hornet | Adam Scott: Friends with Kids
Written by Dan Fogelman: Crazy, Stupid, Love. • Tangled Cars • Bolt • Fred Claus • Cars 2 | Directed by Anne Fletcher: The Proposal • Step Up
Trouble with the Curve • Everybody's Fine • Planes, Trains & Automobiles • College Road Trip • Road Trip

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Reviewed May 10, 2013.

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