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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Guilt Trip

April 28th, 2013

The Guilt Trip - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

The Guilt Trip came out a week before Christmas, which is a great time of year to release a film. However, while it lived up to modest expectations, it was far from a hit at the box office. This is partially due to the huge amount of films released over the course of one week, but would it have thrived had it had the weekend to itself?

The Movie

We are introduced to Joyce Brewster as she calls her son, Andrew, as she calls him over and over and over again. He's preparing to go on a trip to sell his invention, an environmentally friendly cleaner made out of palm oil and soy sauce. Early in his trip, he's going to stop by his mother's place, and she's very excited to see him again. He's not so excited. He's even less excited after his meeting with Kmart doesn't go well. (He needs to be an established brand before Kmart will even consider his product.)

When Andrew arrives in Newark, his mother's enthusiasm is a little too much to take. Even so, he gets talked into having dinner with his mom and her friends, one of whom, Gayle, tries to get Andrew to convince Joyce to go to one of Gayle's singles night. That night, Joyce wants to watch old home movies with Andrew, but he instead decides to go to bed early. He does wake up when he hears his mom watching old home movies and realizes she fell asleep watching old home movies. The next day while at the singles mixer, Andrew realizes his mother hasn't had a social life since his father died, and that was decades ago. They talk, at first about Andrew's social life. Then Joyce tells him a story she's never told him before. When she was 19, she fell in love with a boy and wanted to get married to him and have kids. However, he didn't want a serious relationship. So when Joyce met Andrew's father, they started dating, and within a month, Andrew's father proposed. When Andrew was born, Joyce decided to name him after her first love, Andrew Margolis. She even remembered the company he worked for. It's amazing the little details you remember.

That night, Andrew tracks down Andrew Margolis and finds out that not only is he still working at the same company, he's a V.P. at the San Francisco branch. Also, he's not married. The next morning, he makes a fateful decision. He'll invite his mother on a road trip and extend it a little bit ending in San Francisco, where he will reunite his mother with her first love, but he doesn't tell his mother that part of the plan.

The road trip itself is very episodic with Andrew and Joyce getting involved in a series of misadventures. Some of these are funny, some of these are emotional, some work better than others. However, it is hard to talk about any of them without getting into spoiler territory. The central story of the movie is quite well done and the two leads do have strong chemistry together. The screenplay is a little predictable, which is a problem, but more importantly, the film is not as funny as it should be. It is also not as memorable as it could be. It's a good way to spend the time, but the replay value isn't there.

The Extras

Most of the extras are rather short behind-the-scenes featurettes. Barbra and Seth is a general making of featurette. Barbra's World is about Barbra Streisand and her influence. Guilt Trip: Real Mother of a Road Trip is about the real life road trip the screenwriter, Dan-Fogelman, took with his mother and how that became the basis of the movie. In the Driver's Seat is about Anne Fletcher, who is the director. The final featurette is Not Really a Road Trip Movie, which is about how the movie was shot all within the Los Angeles area. There are also two alternative openings and an alternative ending. There are five minutes of outtakes and finally 12 deleted scenes.

The technical presentation is exactly what you would expect for a movie like this. It is a dialogue driven comedy, so while there's nothing wrong with the video, it is not showy either. The level of details is high, colors are strong, blacks are deep, while there are no compression issues to deal with. The audio boasts very clear dialogue, while there is enough activity in the surround sound speakers that it doesn't seem barren. On the other hand, it isn't flashy either.

The Blu-ray costs $4 or 25% more than the DVD, which is a good deal for this type of release.

The Verdict

The Guilt Trip isn't a bad movie, but it isn't a great one either. It is worth checking out, but I don't think a lot of people who watch it will need to see it more than once. Because of that, a rental is probably all that you need. If you do want to buy, then the Blu-ray Combo Pack is a better deal than the DVD.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Guilt Trip, Anne Fletcher, Kathy Najimy, Seth Rogen, Barbra Streisand, Dan Fogelman