Two days ago Sasha Stone wrote about having seen The Guilt Trip on her way home from Cannes (or a bit more than three weeks ago) and being so knocked out by Barbra Streisand‘s performance as Seth Rogen‘s caring, nagging, somewhat hyper mom that she felt that Streisand was unjustly ignored by the awards handicappers. Yes, The Guilt Trip — a decent but not exactly eye-opening comedy in which Streisand delivered in a respectably earnest, punchy and spirited fashion. But not to the extent that anyone felt like jumping up and down and going “wow!…holy shit…Barbara brings it and then some!”
“Probably the worst crime perpetrated on actresses last year was the total omission of Barbra Streisand in The Guilt Trip,” Stone wrote. She was snubbed, Stone believes, because the tastemakers didn’t pick up the ball and run with it (“Streisand Streisand!”) and because The Guilt Trip was kind of a box-office fizzle. The only award that almost happened for Streisand was a Razzie nomination — “what an insult, what a tragedy,” Stone writes. The film “was an acting showcase for Streisand, a rarity of the industry overall, and one of the few films to ever offer up such a rich portrait of a mother/son relationship,” Stone adds. “They took the risk of making it be a buddy comedy of all things.”
I’ve stuck my neck out on performances and films that many critics have blown off or ignored (Susanne Bier‘s Things We Lost In The Fire, Olivia Colman‘s performance in Tyrannosaur) so I respect Stone standing up solo for Streisand, but I’m telling you that while Streisand’s Guilt Trip acting was good…okay, very good at times…it didn’t have that awards-season schwing. Really. It didn’t.
Stone admits she isn’t in much of a buddy cycle with her own daughter (who is doing the typical teenaged girl thing in which almost everything her mother says or does is a drag or fatally unhip or both) and that The Guilt Trip “is the only movie I’ve seen that deals with this in an honest way.” She means the way Rogen is shown registering irritation and embarassment over Streisand’s manner and behavior throughout the film.
Stone also feels badly, she admits, because she passed on seeing The Guilt Trip last December. She did so “because I trusted the gatekeepers [and presumed they] knew what they were talking about when the film earned a 50% on Metacritic,” she explains. “I get that it isn’t the job of critics to right the wrongs of the film industry to allow the inclusion of roles about women. I get that their job isn’t to help shape the Oscar race to be more inclusive, more diverse and just better overall. Their job is to analyze movies according to their own tastes. In this case, they will all come at this film with their own personal biases, whether they admit them or not.”
All right, c’mon…reality check. Here’s what I wrote about The Guilt Trip on 12.28:
“I think it’s telling that I forgot to run a Guilt Trip review when the embargo broke. I was okay with it. I just forgot. Okay, I couldn’t muster the energy to write it. I guess that’s why it died. Nobody cared that much.
“It’s basically a Jewish mother-and-son car trip movie. Rogen plays an inventor, Andy Brewster, who’s trying to sell a natural-elements cleaner to the big chains without much success. When he discovers that the beloved ex-boyfriend of his widowed mom, Joyce (Streisand), is living and working in San Francisco, he invites her to join him on a cross-country trip as he tries to sell his cleaner (which has a really hard-to-remember name that kinda sounds like Science Cleaner but is actually Scioclean or something like that) so they can wind up in San Fran and reunited with the old boyfriend.
“And yet the way Joyce nags and nudges pisses Andy off and puts him in a bad mood half the time. The film has a nice ending, though — I’ll give it that. Adult chuckles, low-key tone, character-driven, no vulgarity, not classic or landmark but likable and moderately entertaining and occasionally heartfelt.
“I was grateful for Rogen’s low-key personality, although he plays it a little too somber and dour here and there. I was grateful that it didn’t go all crude and sloppy in search of lowest-common-denominator animal laughs.”
[The wifi in the Globe Bookstore & Cafe isn’t letting me embed URL links.]