Thursday, January 3, 2013

At the Movies: The Guilt Trip

About this picture:

gold = gilt = guilt

luggage = trip

It's not every blogger who will go to the trouble of unearthing her luggage just to make a bad pun.  But then, this blogger makes bad puns her business.

So, Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen.  On a cross-country road trip.  As mother and son.  Need I say more?  Not only does The Guilt Trip hit both the stoner and baby boomer demographics, it's funny and heart warming without being mawkish, infusing new life into the aphorisms "mother knows best," and "it's not the destination, but the journey."

Andy (Rogen) is a thirtyish, Los Angeles-based chemist-turned-salesman trying to peddle his home-grown, organic wonder cleaner to legions of unfeeling superstores.  His endeavor is heartbreaking, and Rogen is perfect in his go-to role of the put-upon everyman, even if minus his raunchy edge.  Joyce (Streisand) is a sixtyish coupon-clipping, frog collecting, Weight Watchers member of a widow from New Jersey.  Her husband has been dead for decades, and Andy is her only child - as well as her favorite project.  A well-meaning but unrelenting nag from the school of passive-aggressive mothering, she has always driven Andy crazy, a dynamic that reaches its zenith when he guilt-riddenly invites her on his coast-to-coast, door-to-door sales odyssey.  Clad in her signature track suit, she obliviously and hilariously spit cleans his face, criticizes his sales pitch, tracks down his high school girlfriend, and plays tourist - all while listening to the Oprah's Book Club-approved Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.  (Brief detour: Although I'd heard of Middlesex before seeing this movie, I'd assumed it was about the underbelly of a quaint New England town, not the misadventures of a hermaphrodite.  Imagine my surprise.)  But she does it all in the name of love, a truth that Andy cannot help but accept by the time their story makes its bittersweet landing in a San Francisco airport.  

As I left the theater I felt hopeful and happy and a little bit sad.  Which was just the right cocktail of emotion with which to greet 2013.