Have we gone back in a time machine to the '90s? That's what crossed our minds (and many others', we're sure) when it was revealed that both Billy Crystal and Barbra Streisand would have comedy vehicles dueling it out at the Christmas box office this holiday season. Seeing these two back on the big screen, in lead roles no less, is both a head-scratcher and cause for us to ask you: Who are you happier to see back?
Streisand's — the first out of the gate on December 19th — sees her team up with funnyman-du-jour Seth Rogen for a mother-son road trip comedy titled "The Guilt Trip." The film got its buzz machine going well ahead of the promotional push for Crystal's film "Parental Guidance," thanks to a promising trailer that showcased a more mild-mannered Babs than we're accustomed to seeing. Still, while visibly restrained as an overbearing mother who leaps at the chance to go on a cross-country trip with her inventor son, Streisand dominates the promo (are you surprised?), generating bigger laughs than a game-faced Rogen, who seems to be playing against type as the "straight man." Our takeaway: With Streisand in charge, it's best to just get out of the way.
Meanwhile, in Crystal's Christmas day release, "Parental Guidance," the comedian hams it up with the incomparable Bette Midler. It's another family comedy, but it bears little resemblance to Streisand's, save for the release date and the yucks.
The trailer, which hit the web over a month after the one for "The Guilt Trip" surfaced and not that well ahead of its theatrical release (bad sign?), sells a comedy that skews to the older set about two old-fashioned grandparents (Crystal and Midler) who are forced to care for their three rambunctious grand-kids when the parents leave town for work. With Midler selling wisecracks like the vet that she is and donning a droll Russian accent to land a punchline (watch the trailer and you'll understand), Crystal has his work cut out for him to shine. But if there's any male comedian of Midler's stature who can go toe-to-toe with the icon, it's the "City Slicker" himself.
Crystal's been laying low on the film scene, save for a panned appearance as this year's Oscars' host. His last credited film role harks all the way back to 2002 in "Analyze That," the sequel to his hit comedy "Analyze This" starring the far-busier Robert De Niro.
Streisand's remained a bit more active thanks to her fun supporting turns in 2004's "Meet the Fockers" and 2010's "Little Fockers," but those were campy cameos at best. All in all, these two have been out of the game for the better part of 21st century.
Watch the trailers for "The Guilt Trip" and "Parental Guidance" below and let us know who's more welcome this holiday season, Streisand or Crystal.
"The Guilt Trip"