Blu-ray Review: The Guilt Trip

I’ll say this right up front: The Guilt Trip is not a typical Seth Rogen comedy. For those expecting a stoner comedy, forget it. This film is all about Barbra Streisand; as such it might be the perfect opportunity to watch a movie with your mom. Babs takes center stage in a comedy that doesn’t break new ground, but is a surprisingly delightful story.

The story is a simple one: after tanking his pitch at Kmart, hapless scientist Andy Brewster plans to hit the road, traveling cross country to present his organic cleaning solution to various retailers. Before setting out, he stops to see his long widowed New Jersey mother, Joyce (Streisand).  Moved by the revelation that his mother named him after her first love, who worked for a company in San Francisco, Andy invites his mother to join him on the road trip, covertly planning a stop in San Francisco. Joyce eagerly agrees to join Andy on the trip; predictably, hours in the car together lead to lots of bickering, awkward situations, and eventual understanding.

The Guilt TripDan Fogelman’s (Cars) script, apparently based on a road trip he took with his mother, takes advantage of the fact that Streisand and Rogen are generations apart. He’s able to generate a gentle, relatable kind of fun, as Joyce scolds her son out of genuine love. Joyce may be slightly suffocating, but there’s no question that she loves her only child, even if she drives him crazy. The results aren’t hilarious, but certainly pleasant.

Rogen spends the majority of his time as the exasperated straight man. Occasionally, Rogen does interject some giggle worthy banter. While Babs proves she can nag with the best of them, art threatens to imitate life as you have the urge to tune her out. Fortunately, Streisand is so darned watchable; you can’t help but stick with her. You’re hoping Joyce will find happiness.

One of the film’s best scenes illustrates the point: Joyce is given a ridiculous set piece in a steak house, where she accepts a challenge to down an enormous hunk of meat in under an hour. The scene is written and directed with all the enthusiasm of a flea circus. Nonetheless, Streisand’s impressive comedic timing saves the scene. Watching her eat a steak is surprisingly amusing. The casting of Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand is what makes The Guilt Trip worth watching. The story is nothing special, but Barbra and Seth have an undeniable chemistry, and lots of people will be able to relate to Joyce or Andy in some way.

Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer is a solid one. Colors are nicely saturated, and contrast is stable. The level of detail is excellent, and blacks are inky with dynamic range. Visual perspective in low lighting is admirable, adding to the sense of depth. Essentially, this transfer is everything you’d expect from a new film.

The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack sports impressive dynamic range, and clarity that allows for the distinction between even the slightest sounds. The soundstage is very well balanced, and replicates things realistically. Dialogue is clear, and firmly planted in the center channel.

English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio options are available, as are English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack comes with over an hour of special features including featurettes on Barbra and Seth, a look inside Barbra’s world, an alternate opening and ending, over 10 deleted scenes and a gag reel. The DVD contains only the feature film. The Combo Pack also contains a Digital Copy.

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