Making the Grades
Andrew Brewster (Seth Rogen) has his bags packed and is ready to set out on a road trip that will turn him into a business tycoon. But a quick stop to see his mother Joyce (Barbara Streisand) sends his plans in a whole new direction after she tells him about an old romance prior to her meeting his late father. Anxious to see his mom literally engaged in a new relationship (and focusing her motherly concerns somewhere else) he makes her an offer she can’t refuse: Join him for the trek across the country, during which he will stop at various retail head offices to pitch his organic cleaning product, and they can spend some quality time together. What she doesn’t know is Andrew has discovered her former flame lives on the west coast and that will be the ultimate destination of their voyage.
We’re not surprised that their tepid relationship is stretched early in the trip when Joyce unfolds a 12 CD talking book biography of a hermaphrodite (we hear brief sexual dialogue in the early scenes). Things take another turn for the worse when mom is determined to follow Andrew into the office of his first appointment.
Rogen and Streisand manage to turn all this typical overprotective mother stuff into some funny moments, but what isn’t so typical—at least in the movies—is how this script brings these two back from the brink of mutual aversion to a feeling of compassion and understanding for each other. In a word, it’s honesty. After Andrew comes clean with how sales are truly progressing he and his mother begin to see each other differently.
The overall message is positive but don’t mistake screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s past work with Disney (Cars, Cars 2, Tangled, Bolt) as a reason to take the kids. Aside from a likely lack of interest in this Gen Y’s emotional crisis, the movie contains profanity, including a single sexual expletive. There are also some mild sexual discussions, like Joyce’s frequently voiced belief that hitchhikers typically rape people and her motherly concern that a childhood problem with her son’s private body parts may be contributing to his lack of adult love-life. There is a short scene in a strip bar (no nudity is evident), as well as a scuffle between Andrew and another man that leaves him with a badly bruised face.
Fogelman’s past resume shouldn’t leave us too surprised with his ability to bring a humorous dose of relationship reality to the screen. Rather than resorting to over-the-top scenes full of unbelievable characters, this film instead offers a palette of people and situations that provide insight into the increasingly common interaction of an unwed thirty-something child with his widowed mother. It’s a good start to what may be a productive discussion on your next trip.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Guilt Trip.
How do relations differ between parents and adult children as opposed to younger children? Do you think the issues in the parent child relationship depicted in this movie are becoming more common? Do you feel they are realistically portrayed?