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Barbra Streisand a funny lady and more in ‘The Guilt Trip’

BarbrStreisis Joyce Brewster THE GUILT TRIP from Paramount Pictures Skydance Productions.

Barbra Streisand is Joyce Brewster in THE GUILT TRIP, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions. MMC-06325R

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Updated: January 17, 2013 6:22AM

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — “When do we eat?”

Barbra Streisand is hungry, so she asks everyone around her, “Where’s the food?”

What Babs wants, she doesn’t always get despite her diva status.

In fact, she’s her own worst enemy and stops this journalist with one of her only semi-long talons to say, “So whadda you really think of the ad campaign for the new film? Too much on the comedy? Not enough on the heart? This is keeping me up at night. Whadda you think? I need to know.”

She’s a tiny thing in person, petite and birdlike small, with a voice so pure and melodic that even when she speaks it’s almost like she’s singing.

“When did you see the movie? Did you call your mom?”

The producer and movie star is talking about “The Guilt Trip,” which isn’t the movie you think it is.

In the dramedy (opening Wednesday), she’s a Brooklyn mother named Joyce who guilt-trips her grown son, chemist and product inventor Andy (Seth Rogen), into taking her on his cross-country business road trip. Between the gags, it’s the poignancy of examining their relationship over a long trip that might surprise some audience members or have them reaching for some Kleenex. Some might even have a serious talk with an aging parent after the film.

“It’s a comedy and a drama, but labeling doesn’t matter. This movie examines adult children and a parent. This movie tells the truth about that relationship,” she says.

Son Jason convinced Streisand, now 70, to make the film, her first starring vehicle since “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996). Sure, she did the Focker films, but those were just guest shots.

“I wanted to challenge myself as an actress and star in a film and not just do six days on it,” Streisand says.

Enter a trusted opinion.

“My son was recovering from back surgery and he was in bed. I brought the script over and he read it aloud. His father [actor Elliott Gould] was in the room, too, because we were coddling our boy.

“My son Jason said, ‘You should do it, Mom,’ ” she recalls. “I trust his opinion so much because he has such good taste.”

Streisand also identified with Joyce’s mentality. “When I was working a lot, I felt guilty that I couldn’t pick up my son or make him cookies. I know that guilty feeling,” she insists. “You’re gone, so you compensate trying to make everything great when you’re back. The kid senses the guilt.”

She sighs. “Having a famous parent is also a strange thing. Then I got older, and it’s interesting in a movie to explore this idea of being your son’s friend and not just his mother.”

In “The Guilt Trip,” Joyce lambasts Rogen’s character as a selfish, dismissive jerk who treats her like some burden he has to deal with in his life.

“When I say, ‘You’re abusive to me and rude to me and you don’t listen to my opinions,’ it really hits a nerve with both grown kids and aging parents. Grown kids have their issues and so do the parents. It’s a real hot-button issue.”

As for working with Rogen, she gets downright motherly. “He doesn’t see me as an icon. He seems me as his mother who touches his hair too much.”

Everything Streisand touches seems to have turned to gold over the years, from movies to too many CDs to mention. What is the secret of her success? The audience always wants more Barbra.

“I don’t make that many movies or appearances. Less is more,” she insists. “You need to keep a little mystery.”

She likes her way of working. “I like to stay home a lot,” admits the Brooklyn native. “I like to do other things called life. I even like decorating.”

She would like to direct again. “It’s very hard to get movies made as a director. They’re not interested in love stories under $50 million. It’s okay to lose $200 on an action film. But giving me $18 or $20 million on a drama is a different thing that’s tough.

“I don’t like this business as much these days,” she says, admitting, “I don’t get so many scripts. I’m even going, ‘Where are the scripts?’ ”

Age isn’t her enemy.

Streisand bares it all in “The Guilt Trip”: a face that’s barely touched with makeup. She looks naturally beautiful and ageless in many ways. What is her beauty secret?

“Sitting next to me helps,” Rogen notes.

“He’s so funny,” Streisand says.

She gets very uncomfortable at a mention of her looks. “Beauty secrets? Please,” she says. “If you only knew all of my self doubts.”

Then she reconsiders. “Maybe I’m slightly childish,” she says. “I think beauty comes from your spirit.

“I like the child part of me. It reflects in my face.”

So does her happy life with longtime husband James Brolin. “I make it hard for people to hire me. I love the nights,” she says and smiles. “My husband and I stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning every night. We don’t function in the early morning.

“We love to watch political shows in bed or go on road trips. We love being together.”

Streisand sings, acts, directs. But “I can’t cook,” she says with a warm laugh. “I mean, I can’t cook at all. I wouldn’t know how to make coffee or boil an egg.

“I took cooking classes. I even know how to make a chocolate soufflé. But I found out that I like for someone else to make chocolate soufflé and give it to me.”

She makes a face. “Cooking is so filthy with all the stuff on you! Then there’s the cleaning up!” she rants. “I don’t like it at all.”

That reminds her of something. “When do we eat?” she says, throwing her hands in the air. “They just never feed me!”

Big Picture News Inc.

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