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'Parental Guidance' and 'Guilt Trip' Find Fun in Families

Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are clueless grands; Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen beg to bicker

The Guilt Trip

Director: Anne Fletcher
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 95 min.
Stars: Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen

The Guilt Trip could use some easy laughs, but instead it works hard for those it gets. Screenwriter Dan Fogelman can be very clever when he's writing for cartoons (Cars, Tangled, Bolt), and his ABC sitcom The Neighbors, about a cul de sac occupied by space aliens, is among the freshest things on the air.

The Guilt Trip

Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand star in "The Guilt Trip." — Courtesy Paramount Pictures

But cartoon cars and TV aliens aren't real humans, and neither are the characters Fogelman has written for Streisand and Rogen. Both stars are appealing, and they give this awkward premise everything they've got, but not for one second did I forget they were reciting words of a script and encountering contrived circumstances devised solely to spark another snarky exchange.

On the other hand, it is very, very good to see Streisand working in a comedy. She could have been one of the great comic screen actors of all time (Exhibit A: The Owl and the Pussycat, circa 1970), but that singing thing got in the way. Even here, there's still the shadow of a diva hanging over her: If you do the math, based on when Rogen's character was born, Babs' character in The Guilt Trip ought to be, at the oldest, in her early 50s. Granted, Streisand is one great-looking 70-year-old, but really … .

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