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December 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Guilt Trip, starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, is one of those amiable family comedies that, judging from the reviews, will probably have a more profitable run on the home-video market than it will in theaters. It’s “so comfy cozy that mothers and their grown children can watch it together without squirming,” writes Stephen Holden in the New York Times. The implication is that mothers watch movies with their grown children in their living rooms. Streisand and Rogen’s characters are stereotypical Jewish — although not too stereotypical, the reviews suggest. Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle observes that “if you expected some stereotypical riff on Jewish mothers, forget it. Rogen and Streisand’s name is Brewster in this, and they’re not identified in terms of any specific religion or culture.” But Rex Reed of the New York Observer writes that he doesn’t “like to see the legendary star of Funny Girl and the Way We Were reduced to playing Molly Goldberg on a bad day.” (It’s a reference to the lead character in the radio and early-TV series The Goldbergs, the first series to feature a Jewish family, but which was later criticized for presenting stereotypical characters.) Actually, Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times seems somewhat disappointed that the characters are never defined as Jewish. “There is something promising about the match-up of an old-school show-biz kid like Streisand with the modern, anxiously self-aware Rogen, but what could have been the multigenerational Thunderdome of Jewish Humor instead turns out bloodlessly disappointing,” she writes. And then, there are those critics who succeed in inserting a word or two of Yiddish as a kind of nudge-nudge/wink-wink allusion. “The Guilt Trip is tripe, but it’s tripe that knows its audience. Seriously, take your mother. It’ll be a mitzvah [good deed],” comments Ty Burr in the Boston Globe. On the other hand, Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post calls the movie “a tedious clichéd schlep.