Seth Rogan and Barbara Streisand star as mother and son in this guilty pleasure! It is the road trip movie made so that you can bring your Mom along to the theater- it is tame, mildly funny, and a perfect comedy for the holiday. That said, it lacks the punch you expect from a Rogan film and disappoints in meeting its fullest potential. PPLA was at the press junket for the film and had the chance to see Rogen and Streisand banter firsthand.
Stars Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand along with screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love) and director Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses, The Proposal) attended the press conference at The Four Seasons for the premiere of their comedy The Guilt Trip. Rogan stars as Andy Brewster, a struggling young inventor looking for a lucky break. He has several potential meetings lined up across country to sell his nontoxic household cleaner. In her first starring performance in more than 15 years, Streisand plays his stereotypical Jewish mother- overprotective, overbearing, but full of love. They embark on an 8-day, 3,000 mile road trip in which the pair learn they are not so different from each other at all. That and ‘Mother knows best’.
PPLA: What was it like meeting each other for the first time?
BS: It turns out Seth sussed me out.
SR: I did.
BS: He called people from the Focker movies.
SR: I was working with Joanne Schwartzman who was a cinematographer around the time this came up. I think I asked him what he thought of Barbra and he said she was great. This Barbra Streisand lady, she checked out. So I thought I’d give her a shot.
BS: I thought it was adorable and it was interesting, and yet we’re both Jewish.
SR: We got along very fast, very well.
PPLA: Who made you crack up and laugh the most?
SR: Very serious one this lady!
AF: They had such a great chemistry and such a great ability to improvise with each other that it was so easy. We would just say one word, even if it was “Thanksgiving”, and they would just go into improv that was so genius. Dan and I would be back behind a monitor laughing our heads off.
SR: The way we talk you realize is not entirely different from the way we talk in the movie. We are getting along. It’s a lot of me trying to explain things to her about modern times and her trying to feed me whole wheat. But, she had the iphone before me. I had the blackberry.
BS: He would show me things like…well, yesterday he asked if I had a Twitter account. I said I dunno.
SR: I showed her that she did.
BS: I only use it for political purposes. I wouldn’t know how to find it on my phone.
SR: I’ll show you. I changed her clocks during daylight savings. I do all that stuff.
PPLA: Since you last directed a movie there’s been so many changes to the way movies have been shot. We have digital now, 3D, and we’re even starting to have 48 frames. What are your thoughts on these technologies as a director and how they might change things from the performance side?
BS: I know I love stills so I don’t know what I’m gonna turn out about that. I’ll suss it out.
AF: She’s somebody that does a lot of research and investigates. She loves filmmaking so much that she would want to know everything that’s out there that’s new compared to the old. She would do research to see with her eyes ,which are very specific and detailed .
DF: Barbra sees every movie. There’s no movie that escapes her on the weekends.
PPLA: Barbra I’m wondering how you feel about the label of “icon” and how it relates to your own son. Do you think he views you as that?
BS: He sees me as his mother who touches his hair too much. I love being and icon. Anybody would.
PPLA: You have such a amazing career. What gives you the greatest satisfaction as an artist? What does it mean to you to be part of a project like this?
BS: I prefer things that are private so I love recording and I love making films because it uses every bit of experience of what you know whether its drastic composition, decorating, psychology, storytelling, whatever it is. It’s a wonderful thing. I worked with very talented people. I loved Anne’s movies, The Proposal, and Dan I looked you up to. What is that musical that I love?
BS: Tangled, yeah I love that.
PPLA: This movie has a great balance of comedy and drama in it, what was hardest for your? The dramatic moments or the comedic?
BS: Everything is based on truth and honesty, so if you’re saying something truthful, like a funny line, it’s gonna be funny, or serious line it’s gonna be serious. I don’t think there’s a distinction between how you play drama or comedy because it’s based in truth.
AF: Especially when you have two actors who have great ability to do both. Not everybody has the ability to be really funny and understand comedy and how to portray it and be real with it. They’re both incredible.
PPLA: What is the secret to looking young Barbra?
BS: Less is more. Maybe that…I like to stay home a lot. I like to do other things.
PPLA: How crazy can you drive your own son and how crazy does your mother drive you?
SR: Very. My mom drives me crazy sometimes. I have a good relationship. I see my parents a lot, but a lot like in the movie I’ll get annoyed and find myself reverting back to the mentality of the 14-year old kid who doesn’t want to be around his parents. One of the things that I relate to most in the script honestly was just that dynamic where your mother is trying, and the more she tries, the more it bugs you, and the more it bugs you, the more she tries…all that is, at times, real to my relationship with my mother.
PPLA: How much time did you and Jason Gould have when you were thinking how you wanted to play the role and can you share with us some funny stories?
BS: It was very important in my decision to make the movie because he was recovering from back surgery so he was on his back for a few days after.
SR: He couldn’t escape.
BS: I read it aloud and it was interesting his father was in the room too. We were both very, you know… coddling our son. Jason agreed to the project and said I think you should do it mom. I really trust his integrity and his opinion. He finished the deal.
AF: I was with you all over the world. In her house, on vacation, on a boat in France, somewhere in the Bahamas, the dog was gonna jump off the boat. I had a lot of time. I loved that Jason just one night said yes Mom let’s do it. I had a whole year. It was a great year I will never forget. Are you kidding? To go over to Barbra’s house and have a conversation about life and food.
DF: We were getting closer talking about why she should do this film and then something distracted Barbra and she goes lets eat. We were there for five hours and forgot to talk about the movie. We talked about everything except the film.
BS: Then there comes a time, I was out on a boat with my friend who’s an architectural critic says “An actor has a craft, and your an actor, and you should use it and do it.” I thought that was interesting….
PPLA: What was it in the reading with your son that you connected with that made you do it and would you still do it if he said no?
BS: Mothers always have this guilt trip. I mean if you’re working a lot I feel guilty as a parent I can’t pick up my son from school and bake him cookies, that kind of thing. So I know that feeling a lot. You try to compensate, everything they do is great. They sense that guilt, children, and they go through their own rebellious times. I thought it was interesting to investigate trying to be my sons friend versus a mother and when it comes time to really say you abused me, you disrespect me, you talk back to me, you don’t honor what I say, you won’t take my advice, that type of thing…it hit on all those things that I thought I could explore. It was a true story about Stan and his mother. Then just loving the script. It just felt like it was meant to be to go back to work. It was time to challenge myself again. I kept wanting an out so I made it hard. I said would you build a set in the valley, and they said yep. I hate to get up early, I’m not a morning bird. It’s very hard for Seth to be funny at 7:30.
SR: You did it for me? (Laughs)
BS: He has to brush his teeth, you have to feed him a little bit. I said you can’t get me up till 8:30. A normal time to get up for me. I stay up till two or three in the morning so we don’t function well at six in the morning and they said okay.
AF: I wasn’t going to do the movie without these two. There wasn’t a back up. So if Seth said no there was no replacement. If Barbra said no there was no replacement. I wasn’t going to make the movie.
SR: I asked if she would make the movie without me and she said no. I felt bad and I thought oh no she’s not gonna have a job! For me it was funny, they were like we want you to do the movie with Barbra and I said well let me know if she’s in.
BS: It’s nice to feel wanted.
PPLA: What do you want people to take away from the film?
BS: I want them to be moved, to identify, to see themselves in the movie, to get closer to themselves, and love it.
PPLA: What about the decision to play on Jewish stereotypes?
AF: I think also making the movie, not wanting to focus on Jewish, really wanting to focus on mother-son relationships, and all mothers and children can appreciate the film.
PPLA: Barbra, you looks so beautiful in this film, what is your secret to staying young and flawless?
SR: Sitting next to me helps!
BS: He is so funny. I don’t know. Maybe I’m slightly childish.
PPLA: Is there anything either of you can’t do well?
BS: I can’t cook. I can’t cook at all. I wouldn’t know how to make coffee. I know how to make chocolate souffle, but do I want to. I don’t like to cook because it’s never appetizing people.
PPLA: How much of the film was improvised scenes? How much script?
AF: I don’t know to be perfectly honest. We had such a great flow of a great script and amazing ideas from Seth and Barbra everyday. Their chemistry is insane and they’re incredibly connected. I’ve been around it a lot of my life and these two people are insane with it. They actually speak and listen at the exact same time. So it was always my goal to have that on screen because I think it’s magic, and I don’t think that many people have that much of a click. These two have a very unique ability that I wanted the world to see, so we did a lot of improv.
DF: The more dramatic stuff was probably script, and more of the comedy in the car stuff was Seth.
AF: Seth’s brain works at a different capacity than any other human being and it’s brilliant.
PPLA: Seth, your character had a good range of emotion, how did you approach Andy Brewster?
SR: I thought of it as a real time performance so I thought I would try to be as real and natural as possible. He’s not a particularly funny guy or in a good mood, but I thought that if he seemed a little vulnerable people really seemed to connect. We got options. I would do more takes where I was harsh with Barbra and takes where I was less harsh, and takes where I was more annoyed and less annoyed…I think that we knew that it would be somewhere in there. Especially when you don’t know how annoyed can each person be….
BS: The director’s playing an instrument.
AF: You learned how quick the audience responded to it.
BS: I would say it’s a different kind of love story.
SR: Which to me sounds gross!
BS: You’re mind automatically goes in the gutter!
PPLA: Barbra, who’s opinion do you trust most about your work?
BS: I trust a lot of people, my husband, my son, my manager mostly.
SR: My writing, directing, and producing partner is pretty honest with me. My wife doesn’t count.
Visit The Guilt Trip to watch the trailer & see exclusive videos and photos!