Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Guilt Trip

Year 7, Day 238 - 8/26/15 - Movie #2,132

BEFORE: This seems like it would have made a great film for Mother's Day, but I was busy watching "The Butler" then, and I don't want to put this off until next year, because placing it here it leads me to some films that are perfect for a Back to School chain.  I've got to consider the big picture, after all.  Tom Virtue carries over from "Return to Me", where he played a doctor - here he's cast as "Mature Singles Man".

THE PLOT:  As inventor Andy Brewster is about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime, a quick stop at his mom's house turns into an unexpected cross-country voyage with her along for the ride.

AFTER: At first this seems just like your average road-trip film, God knows we've seen a bunch of these in the last few years, like "Due Date", "Identity Thief", "We're the Millers" and "The Hangover" films.  But it's the first one I've seen where a man goes on a road trip with his mother, so at least it has a relatively newish angle.  

Quite simply, no one can get under your skin like your mother can.  Even if she's the loving, nurturing type, then those are exactly the qualities that will come to annoy you over time - because there's a fine line between mothering and smothering, and most mothers seem like they get sort of "all in", and then there are no lines she won't cross, no personal questions she won't ask, and so on.  

This can, in many cases, lead to a catharsis where the son may take in one annoyance after another, and eventually explode - and that's exactly what happens here, to great comic effect.  From my experience, this is a natural part of growing up - I went through it around age 17 (and if you knew what a sweet, charitable woman my mother is, you'd understand what a rat bastard I probably was then) so if we assume Seth Rogen's character is 30 here, then the confrontation between son and mother is long overdue.  It seems like he's been avoiding it by living far away from her, but when she mentions an old boyfriend whom he was named after, he takes the opportunity to invite her on a cross-country trip.

In a way, he meddles in his mother's life, by not telling her the real purpose for the trip.  I can't decide if this makes him a hypocrite, or if turnabout is fair play. 

I think what surprised me here was Streisand's ability as an actress - I'm used to seeing her acting silly in older movies like "What's Up, Doc?" or "The Owl and the Pussycat", or acting silly in newer movies like "Meet the Fockers", and she always came off as sort of a human cartoon.  But here she felt real, like a real overbearing mother, but one with faults and issues, and I think she was able to deliver lines that would have seemed very silly if delivered by someone else.  She's simply the most believable thing about the film, while I was aware at all times that Seth Rogen was an actor playing a part.  Maybe it's that really fake nervous laugh that he's taken to doing.  

The highlight of the film was probably seeing Streisand's character try to eat that giant steak challenge in Texas - the one that's a 72 oz. steak, plus potato, plus salad, plus roll and you have a 1 hour time limit and if you succeed, it's free.  Conventional wisdom says a skinny woman doesn't have a chance at succeeding at this, but conventional wisdom is wrong - watch some of today's competitive eating contests, and they're dominated by skinnier people.  Fatter people simply don't have as much room for their stomach to expand - there was a woman this past April who ate THREE of these 72 oz. steaks, plus all the trimmings, in under 20 minutes, and she only weighs about 120 pounds.  That's impressive, and a little scary.  (Yeah, I realize Streisand probably did this with the help of "movie magic", like editing, but it was still fun.) 

Also starring Barbra Streisand (last seen in "Little Fockers"), Seth Rogen (last seen in "This Is the End"), Adam Scott (last seen in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"), Brett Cullen (last seen in "42"), Ari Graynor (last seen in "Celeste and Jesse Forever"), Colin Hanks (last seen in "W."), Yvonne Strahovski, with cameos from Nora Dunn (last seen in "Miami Blues"), Rick Gonzalez (last seen in "Laurel Canyon"), Casey Wilson, Kathy Najimy (last seen in "Hope Floats"), Miriam Margolyes, Creed Bratton, Danny Pudi (last seen in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier").

RATING: 6 out of 10 ceramic frogs

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