EXT: Shabby motel parking lot. Flashing “vacancy” sign is missing the letter “n.”
Early evening. Against a setting sun, a red Chevy Sonic pulls up and out bursts Katie Morosky.
“You’ll never find anyone as good for you as I am, who believes in you as much as I do or who loves you as much!” She hollers at the driver and slams the door shut.
CLOSEUP: Seth Rogen steps out, sweater tied up around his neck. He yells after her, “When you love someone, from Roosevelt to me, you go blind, deaf and dumb.”
Complete disclosure here – I am a Streisand freak. The kind who knows more about Streisand than she does herself. It’s almost not healthy. And it gets pricey, like when she gives a concert.
But I didn’t know what to expect from “The Guilt Trip.” Which Barbra would I get? Katie Morosky? Fanny Brice? Susan Lowenstein? Luckily, I got Joyce Brewster, the most restrained, low-key and delightful Streisand has been for years. I was practically obligated to love the “The Guilt Trip” – but I liked it, too. Even my date liked it.
Every road trip movie validates my belief that you don’t really know anyone until you’ve spent a week with them in a car. It can make or break a relationship. Who drives? Who sleeps? How do you decide the route? Where do you sleep? Eat? Shop?
The road trip can be a exercise in torture of Sisyphean proportions for the uptight, or a happy-go-lucky getaway for the less repressed. Usually, it falls somewhere in between for most of us.
In “Thelma and Louise,” my favourite road trip movie of all time, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon get knocked down over and over again, betrayed by every male they encounter, eventually engulfed by an inferno of crime. Does the gorgeous 1966 Thunderbird they drive along this journey save them – or doom them? I’ve never been able to decide. It’s one of the dubious charms of the road movie, and why Hollywood keeps dipping into this genre at every opportunity.
So I had my misgivings about “The Guilt Trip,” and hoped it wouldn’t propagate any nasty stereotypes.
But the movie turned out to be a wonderful exercise in bonding – not baggage, for Streisand and Rogen. Streisand herself admitted that she and her husband, James Brolin, often take off for a road trip in a truck with a bench seat so they could sit next to each other. She lets Brolin drive, while she rides shotgun. She doesn’t drive, having tried once and wound up going the wrong way on a highway ramp. *Shudder* Apparently they go to places like Arizona and chow down on good eats.
Streisand said the road trip experience is intimate and brings her closer to her husband. In the movie, mother and son kibbitz their way to a new understanding of each other. The chemistry between Rogen and Streisand is natural and comfortable (as an easy chair?), as they riff off each other with easy ad libs and quips that you might miss if you’re chewing too loud.
I couldn’t get past the image of Streisand and Brolin cruising along Arizona truck stops, red dust whirling in their wake – what the heck would they drive? A black F150? I pictured them pulling up to a funky roadhouse, disguised with sunglasses and cowboy hats. I’ll bet even Sammy, Streisand’s little white dog, would have to don chihuahua ears.
And I wondered – could I survive eight days in a car with Barbra Streisand?
Maybe, I would have a new BFF. And she, in turn, might finally learn to drive.