Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I thought it was something else, that's all.

As another Mother's Day has come and gone, I'm left with an uneasy feeling. First, I didn't get my wife (my pregnant wife, no less) anything, though to be fair, she demanded I not waste any money on her (carefully chosen words, perhaps?). So, my son and I made her a surprisingly awesome card and crossed our fingers. We we're going to get her flowers, but it turns out someone else got my wife a huge bouquet of flowers for Mother's Day. Guess who?

My mother. Perfect, right? Not only did my mom get my wife a sweet present, but I didn't even get my own mother a damn thing. Nothing. No horribly made breakfast in bed, no homemade coupon for a clean house!, not even the customary last-minute framed photo.

The only thing left to do? Figure out which role I'm worse at: husband, or son? Seems like a toss up.

For whatever reason, I thought The Guilt Trip was going to be worth the buck-fifty rental fee at Redbox. Contrary to the opening paragraph, I had my wife in mind. Her checklist? Three parts: Funny, new(ish) and short. Well, two out of three ain't bad.

Severely lacking in the funny, this movie ended up being less Two Dollar Cinema, and more One Grandmother Cinema. Meaning, this is probably an ideal flick for a slightly edgier senior crowd (there is a lone F-bomb), but otherwise, this is an easy one to pass on for us non-octogenarians.

The setup, contrived as it may be, at least had the potential for some good bits. Seth Rogen plays Andy, a smart-enough guy desperate to get the cleaning product he invented off the ground and carried by major retailers. Barbara Streisand plays his, get this, overbearing mother. Though the motivations aren't exactly clear to all parties, Andy ends up taking his mom across the country as his pitches his product again and again. While each stop along the way becomes essentially an unfunny SNL skit, the whole thing is at least anchored by relatable performances. Most guys will see a bit of themselves in Rogen's defeated and frustrated Andy. And everybody, mom's included, will likely see something in Streisand's character that reminds them of their own mom. More than once, my wife and I turned to each other and simultaneously gestured that reminds me of your Mom. All that said, this is a road-trip flick that screams in-flight entertainment, at best, if that makes sense.

Speaking of air travel, here's a pair you'd never want to sit between, the Yays and Boos. When they get up to go the bathroom, they always give you the crotch. 

  • One thing that made me actually laugh out loud? Streisand's character referring to someone as an oriental. I essentially had to have an intervention to make my Mom realize that term was decidedly not cool.
  • As much as a lot of the comedy sputtered, I actually bit on the little bit of drama there was. The Drink you f--king water! scene was legitimately tense. Borderline intense.
  • Do all moms love to gamble? My mom is like Marge Simpson at the slots. I call him Gamblor, and it's time to snatch your mother from his neon claws!
  • Even though the triumphant victory scene was telegraphed an hour prior, it still was enjoyable. Rogen's crude, all business delivery was perfect. Because no one wants to shit blood on TV.
  • And finally, even though I ultimately didn't like the movie, I appreciate the fact that it made me want to call my mom at the end of it. Whether I actually did or not...well, about that...
  • I don't care if the plot calls for it or not. There's no way he lets his mom drive. Not in a million years.
  • Another very necessary bit to the plot was given away by an all too forthcoming secretary. Reminded me of that scene in Wayne's World.
  • The scene pictured to the right. What the shit was that? Not only does it make zero sense that his mom could eat 50 oz. of meat in a sitting, the whole thing goes off without incident. Um, so in a dumb movie, we have a character eat four-and-a-half pounds of meat, and there's no ill-advised vomit scene? Really? So, I guess good judgement only lent itself to this scene. Hmm.
  • The big payoff at the end was equal parts predictable and inexplicable. First: Um, didn't he sound kind of young on the phone? Just a thought. Second: This successful and likely wealthy guy lives with his sister? Sweet moment or not, I wanted to stab something in the face immediately.
  • What the Hell was with that final shot in the airport? Inspirationally dull..
  • And finally, one of the ultimate Boos. I rent this piece with my wife in mind and guess what she does? Spoiler Alert: She falls asleep, snoring like a wounded sailor. Sure, she's growing a person - but still. I could have been watching Premium Rush instead. I mean, that's likely the best movie about bike messengers ever.
There's some loose talk around these parts that my mom might move from Hawai'i to Pennsylvanian this fall to help us out with our upcoming bundle of joy. I can already imagine next January. My mom, knocking at the door, as snow gathers on the hood of her over-sized parka. And as she steps inside to the smell of a loaded diaper and the stale heat from the furnace, she'll shiver, but instantly roll up her sleeves and get to work. Because that's what mom's do.

Me? I'll be left with that uneasy feeling.


  1. This looks like a tough sit...can't stand looking at or hearing Barbara Streisand. Haha.

    1. Tough sit? That's putting it mildly.

      I honestly think this was the most time I've ever spent with Streisand. I don't get the fascination, but here she was at least tolerable.

  2. I'm really late commenting on this but I agree this was a big disappointment. I'm a huge Streisand fan so I was delighted when I read she was finally returning to a starring role after years away. I was incredibly letdown when I watched this dumb nonsensical thing. The restaurant scene was beyond stupid.

    If you're unfamiliar with her work her early pictures, before her directing and ego got in the way, are better than her later ones in my opinion.

    The best place to start is What's Up, Doc?, a very funny movie with a bunch of terrific performances including a classic one from Madeline Kahn. Her best dramatic performance is in The Way We Were and if you like musicals, or more specially her singing voice, her first Funny Girl really spotlights her unique star power.