Barbra Streisand THE GUILT TRIP Disappoints, Tom Cruise Too Short for JACK REACHER?

Barbra Streisand The Guilt TripBarbra Streisand The Guilt Trip Disappoints at North American box office

Barbra Streisand in The Guilt Trip should have been a shoo-in for the Golden Globes in the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical category. When Streisand failed to get nominated, it seemed clear that something was dead wrong with the Anne Fletcher-directed comedy co-starring Seth Rogen. (Image: Barbra Streisand The Guilt Trip.)

Perhaps it's a mere coincidence – totally unrelated to the Golden Globes, that is – but The Guilt Trip reviews have been generally pretty mediocre. Despite the presence of one of cinema's (and pop culture's) iconic figures of the late 20th century, the $40 million-budgeted mother-son comedy has a 48 percent approval rating and 5.9/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics, and grossed a measly $1.02 million at 2,431 North American locations on its Wednesday, Dec. 19, debut according to figures found at Box Office Mojo. The Guilt Trip's per-theater average was a paltry $424; in fact, the latest Barbra Streisand star vehicle will be lucky if it cracks the $10 million mark by Sunday evening.

Barbra Streisand box office magnet

Barbra Streisand used to be a box office magnet in her heyday in the '70s. Whether watchable (The Way We Were, For Pete's Sake) or bad (Funny Lady) or worse (A Star Is Born, The Main Event), her movies were nearly all – apart from the costly On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and the obscure Up the Sandbox – box office hits. Remember: A Star Is Born's $80 million domestic gross in 1976 represents approximately $300 million today, while The Main Event's $42.8 million would translate into about $135 million 2012 dollars.

Apart from one major box office misfire in the last three decades – All Night Long (which actually stars Gene Hackman) in 1981 – even after Barbra Streisand semi-retired from films in the early '80s, her sporadic appearances have all been remarkably successful. Those have ranged from showy leads (Yentl, Nuts, The Mirror Has Two Faces, and to a lesser extent The Prince of Tides) to unworthy supporting roles (Meet the Fockers, Little Fockers).

So, it's a little shocking that The Guilt Trip, Streisand's first movie lead since The Mirror Has Two Faces back in 1996, has been received so unenthusiastically by audiences. Perhaps they've been unaware the film exists, as the buzz surrounding Barbra Streisand's latest has been surprisingly muted. Or perhaps Paramount hasn't forgiven or forgotten On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and has decided it should spend its marketing moolah on Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher instead.

Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen topline The Guilt Trip cast

Besides Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen as mother and son on a fateful road trip, The Guilt Trip features Adam Scott, Colin Hanks, Kathy Najimy, Dale Dickey, Miriam Margolyes, Brandon Keener, Brett Cullen, and Ari Graynor. Dan Fogelman (Cars, Cars 2, Tangled, Bolt and the live-action Crazy, Stupid, Love) wrote the screenplay.

Tom Cruise too short to play Jack Reacher?

Wrapping this up, let me add that complaints about Tom Cruise (5'7”) being too short to play the 6'5” Jack Reacher – and remarks that Cruise's height will somehow affect Jack Reacher's box office prospects – are silly at best. So, Tom Cruise would be an inappropriate Jack Reacher because of his height? Hey, how about Peter O'Toole (6'3”) playing T.E. Lawrence (5'5”) in that old (multiple-Oscar-winning) movie Lawrence of Arabia, one of the greatest blockbusters ever? Any problems? Not to mention that Taylor Lautner (supposedly 5'10”) acquitted himself quite well playing the 6'7” Jacob Black in the various Twilight movies. Would New Moon or Eclipse have earned an extra $100 million had Lautner been a few inches taller? And let's not forget that the next T.E. Lawrence will reportedly be played by Robert Pattinson (6'1”). Or that movie magic can make smaller performers look quite prepossessing on the big screen.

Directed by The Usual Suspects' screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, Jack Reacher opens on Friday, Dec. 21. Paramount is expecting a relatively modest $12-$15 million over this relatively low-key weekend.

Barbra Streisand The Guilt Trip photo: Paramount Pictures.

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