Seth Rogen (left) and Barbra Streisand steer this uneven vehicle, with Pedro Lopez along for the ride.
THE GUILT TRIP (Anne Fletcher). 95 minutes. Now playing. See listing. Rating: NN
The Guilt Trip is just an excuse to buckle Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand into a movie premise together, and the chemistry between them is the main engine firing under the hood of this star vehicle.
Rogen plays Andy, an inventor on a cross-country trek to hawk his organic cleaning product, who asks his henpecking mom (Streisand) to tag along. Streisand's credible as the stereotypical Jewish mother, and Rogen straddles a line between his more robust comic riffing and his convincing serious turn in Take This Waltz.
But there's not enough movie here. The major comic set piece - which pits Streisand against a Texas-sized steak - is lifted directly from The Great Outdoors (or a dog-eared volume of How To Write A Comedy Movie). A longer-running gag that plays the film's Oedipal tension against scenes of the two listening to the book-on-tape of Jeffrey Eugenides's incest epic Middlesex is much better, even if it flies under the radar.
Clumsily directed by Anne Fletcher, most of the jokes fall flat, the comic bickering receding into shapelessness. By the time Rogen and Streisand arrive at their destination to sputter through their requisite emotional cues, The Guilt Trip's too road-weary to sell them.