We've seen Barbra Streisand in full comedic flight in recent years, thanks to Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers, but her last leading role was in the 1996 romantic comedy The Mirror Has Two Faces, which she also directed.
So it's great to see her back in charge in this mum-and-son road trip and, given her co-star Seth Rogen's rather pared-back performance, it would seem the movie is directed at her fans, rather than his.
They're not an obvious pairing, but Rogen and Streisand make a pretty convincing mother-and-son couple as they travel from New Jersey to Las Vegas so the son can pitch to companies a cleaning product he's developed.
As Joyce, Streisand nags, interferes and worries, and as Andy, Rogen tries to hide his frustration and be a good son. It makes for solid but rather routine material as they bicker with each other in the car and in motel rooms, which is where most of the film's action takes place, and there's a temptation to think "How much further?".
But when they do get on with each other, it's a different film. In these moments it's as if they've finally been allowed to have fun and improvise a little, and they're hilarious as they let loose.
Streisand gets more of the memorable moments, while Rogen just looks on, such as when Joyce tries to eat half a cow in one hour in a Texas restaurant competition.
It's in scenes like this that Streisand reminds us of how good her comedic timing is - and how much better The Guilt Trip would have been with more of them.
The script has let Streisand and Rogen down, surprisingly as it's from Crazy, Stupid, Love screenwriter Dan Fogelman, so it's a shame the tight reins of director Anne Fletcher (The Proposal) didn't allow them to help themselves. At least Babs' fans will be pleased to see her back in action.
Cast: Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen
Director: Anne Fletcher
Running time: 95 mins
Rating: M (offensive language and sexual reference)
Verdict: This road-trip backfires its way across America
- TimeOutBy Francesca Rudkin Email Francesca