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REVIEW: The Guilt Trip
REVIEW: The Guilt Trip

There's a funny moment in director Anne Fletcher's new comedy drama, The Guilt Trip, that sees Seth Rogen's character Andy sitting alongside his mother while she drives him to distraction playing a game on her mobile phone.

I raise this one scene because as I write this review I can hear in the next room my mum playing a similarly annoying app on her Kindle Fire, oblivious to the irritation caused by an incessant "bleep bleep bleep" noise.

See, that's the thing about The Guilt Trip. It might not be the most cerebral of films - nor the funniest. And certainly, there's no chance of it competing for attention with some of the big Oscar-nominated features being released over the coming weeks.

But despite its shortcomings - the plot in particular is formulaic and riddled with cliches - there are plenty of home truths in The Guilt Trip that will resonate with anyone whose mum has spat on her hanky and wiped dirt off their face, or called at an unsociable hour in the morning from a different time zone.

Based on a road trip screenwriter Dan Fogelman took with his mother from New Jersey to Las Vegas, The Guilt Trip sees Rogen for once playing the straight man, leaving it primarily up to his screen mum Barbra Streisand to garner the laughs. The guilt in the title refers to Andy's feelings of remorse for being a distant son - both geographically and emotionally (he rolls his eyes whenever her name comes up on his mobile phone).

He intends to rectify that by inviting his mum along - although not entirely intentionally - on a cross-country road trip he is taking to spruik his environmentally- friendly cleaning product. It will be a chance for the pair to bond, he says, failing to mention he's planning to end the trip in San Francisco, where he has tracked down his mum's first and lost love, with whom he hopes to reunite her.

The Guilt Trip is not, as the trailer perhaps suggests, a laugh- a-minute comedy.

But there's something quite charming about the premise and the pairing of Streisand and Rogen.

It's been almost 17 years since Streisand last appeared in a lead role (although she's appeared in the Fockers movies) and despite being nominated for a Razzie for her role as the over-protective and over- bearing Joyce, she is in fact quite charming here.

So much so that while the younger members of the audience will empathise with Andy, mothers seeking reassurance their adult children still love them will similarly see things from Joyce's point of view.

When she gives her son a serve for being selfish it makes the point that sometimes it's easy to take a parent's love for granted.

Similarly, that if we showed the same patience and tolerance it takes to raise children we could - shock, horror - be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

As road trip movies go, The Guilt Trip doesn't venture into new territory. However, it's a comfortable and easy ride worth taking with your mum - that is, if you can put up with her munching on popcorn next to you.