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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Guilt Trip

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand star in a scene from the movie "The Guilt Trip."
The inevitable tensions of family life have served as the basis for many a screen comedy. In the current holiday season alone, they provide grist for two very different cinematic mills: the crude misfire "This Is 40" and the warmhearted mother-and-son road movie "The Guilt Trip" (Paramount).

Though the latter includes material for mature eyes only, it offers a view of clan interaction that calls to mind St. Paul's inspired insight that the first—and perhaps primary—attribute of real love is patience (1 Cor. 13:4).

Learning that lesson as the film unspools is buttoned-up Los Angeles chemist Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen). Visiting his New York-based mom Joyce (Barbra Streisand) before setting off on a cross-country business trip—during which he'll be pitching a cleaning product he invented to various store chains—Andy discovers a secret about her past: Before she married long-deceased dad, Joyce had a boyfriend for whom she still carries a nostalgic torch these many years later.

This being the age of Google, a moment's research on Andy's part, once he's alone in his room—together with a follow-up phone call—reveals that Joyce's former beau is alive and well, single, and living in San Francisco. Andy decides he'll secretly engineer a reunion by inviting Joyce along on his journey, and pretending that his last appointment is in the City by the Bay. Needless to say, doting Mom is thrilled by the idea.

Not all the adventures that ensue make for family viewing, notably an unintended stop-off at a roadside strip club. But the vibrant mutual affection between the two main characters shines through as they try to reconcile their ill-matched temperaments.

Extrovert Joyce repeatedly runs afoul of Andy's love of the laid-back, and frequently elicits wry observations from him on the eccentricity of her outlook. A creative researcher, but no salesman, Andy could benefit from Joyce's common touch, but bearishly refuses to listen to her advice.

As a dedication included in the end titles hints, and publicity materials for the film explain more fully, screenwriter Dan Fogelman found inspiration for his script in a real-life excursion he and his mother— also named Joyce—undertook together.

By turns amusing and touching, director Anne Fletcher's picture, which sees both Streisand and Rogen in top form, registers as enjoyable fare for grownups.

The film contains brief partial nudity, numerous adult references, a couple of uses of profanity as well as at least one rough and about a dozen crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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