Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Guilt Trip

A Road Trip of Healing
Between Mother and Son
By Jan McClure

Movie Review of
The Guilt Trip
Director: Anne Fletcher; Cast: Seth Rogen, Barbara Streisand

The Guilt Trip is not quite as funny as I thought it would be, but yet it had enough feel-good components, as well as the constant tensions between mother and son that in retrospect made it a very enjoyable film.

The mother, Joyce Brewster (played by Barbara Streisand), is the stereotyped overbearing “Jewish” mother. However, her character has a charm that makes her very endearing.  The struggling inventor son, Andy (played by Seth Rogen), is still unmarried, leaving the mother constantly wondering where did she go wrong and pondering why and what happened that he isn’t married. 

The film begins by setting up the dynamics between mother and son, with a few surprising twists. They are on an eventful road trip together, and as we follow their adventures, we see their relationship growing and changing through many struggles.  There is enough humor to balance the pain, and the movie becomes a nice mix of a comedy with several important messages about life. 

Without revealing too much of the plot, there is one part of the movie where I was remotely reminded of Our Blessed Mother.  Let me explain.  We once had a priest who described his meditation of Mother Mary as a strong Jewish mother.  He then began to describe how strong she must have been, and asked us to think of strong Jewish women that we knew.  I have to admit I had never thought of Mary in quite that way.  The movie reminded me of the wisdom of Mary by bringing to life the priest’s reflection.

Barbara Streisand played the part of the mother with strength, yet there was a gentleness about her.  I thought she played the character very well.  

The movie continues with the comedic antics of their road trip, as well as the unfolding of how and where both of their lives have grown apart.  The road trip gives them an opportunity to reconnect, and we get to watch their relationship change.  The film also deals with some of the struggles that young adults have in making their way in life, both emotionally as well as financially. At one point, Joyce reveals to her son how he received his name.  This brings up many unanswered questions for him and is part of the journey of the film. 

Towards the end of the movie, both characters have very profound revelations.  One of the revelations that Joyce has is that we all meet people who don't stay in our lives but they have a purpose, getting us to the person we are supposed to be with.  Without the film saying explicitly that there is a God, the point was made that there is a providential plan for each of us.

The movie is rated PG-13 and does have some explicit language and a few scenes that would not be appropriate for young children.  The film wasn’t quite what I expected, however I came away feeling good and with food for thought regarding parental relationships. 

Questions for youth groups, families, and other small group discussions (and we hope you will post a comment below!):
  1. In what way is your mother like the Blessed Mary?
  2. Can you imagine going on a road trip just with your mother?  (Or your son?) What lessons do you hope you'd both learn from it?
  3. Do you know how your parents decided on your name? What does your name signify to you?

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