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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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Martha: Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death. 
<p>No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner. </p><p>Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “...[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a). </p><p>Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).</p> American Catholic Blog Anger and inconsistency feed each other. Anger in a parent can lead to erratic discipline, and erratic discipline promotes anger and frustration. Good parents work hard to discipline with a level head. The best parents though, even after many years or many kids, are still working on the level-headed part.

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