Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2012. Paramount Pictures, Skydance Media, Michaels-Goldwyn, Broadway Video. Screenplay by Dan Fogelman. Cinematography by Oliver Stapleton. Produced by Evan Goldberg, John Goldwyn, Lorne Michaels. Music by Christophe Beck. Production Design by Nelson Coates. Costume Design by Danny Glicker. Film Editing by Dana E. Glauberman, Priscilla Nedd-Friendly.
It’s difficult enough to get your entrepreneurial business of the ground without having to also accommodate your loud and overbearing mother, but that is where we find Seth Rogen at the beginning of this pleasant comedy. Rogen has invented a bio-friendly cleaning product so safe you can drink it, and is having trouble getting it stocked on store shelves because of his poor presentation skills at pitch meetings. He begins a week-long driving trip across the country where he plans to stop at various superstores in order to sell his wares, but first stops to see his mother (Barbra Streisand) and, on a crazy whim, decides to invite her to join him on his road trip. This is partly inspired by her revelation to him that she once loved a man before meeting his now deceased father, who Rogen discovers is living in San Francisco and gets the idea that they should be reunited. The decision to have her tag along becomes something to regret when her non-stop concern and advice become the bane of his existence. What we have here is the formula of romantic comedy reconfigured for mother-son bonding time: they squabble, he blows up, she retaliates and then eventually they reconcile in time to save his career with an added appendix of wrapping up her love life at the end. What is surprising is what a pleasure it all is; Rogen doesn’t spend the entire movie indulging in his annoying guffaw, instead manifesting the sympathy of anyone who has ever been driven crazy by a loveable nutty mother, while Streisand steals the entire show with the charisma she showed in Funny Girl and hasn’t lost since. Her Joyce is pushy, mouthy, aggravating and abrasive but she’s also endearing, sweet and genuinely cares; Streisand gives the character many more shades than this otherwise formulaic film deserves, and ends up winning hearts all around. It’s almost a shame she isn’t in a better movie, but it’s no big deal as you’ll have a great time anyway.