The Couch Trip | Chicago Reader

The Couch Trip

While this isn't quite the return to form that satirist Michael Ritchie (Smile, Semi-Tough) apparently intended, given his many years in the wilderness as an anonymous contract director, it's funny enough. Dan Aykroyd shines as a clever inmate at a Chicagoland mental hospital who contrives to escape, fly to LA, and take over the job of a wealthy Beverly Hills psychiatrist (Charles Grodin), who is flipping out and has temporarily retreated to London. The movie gets some nice laughs at the expense of exploitative shrinks, and develops a Capra-esque scenario as Aykroyd proceeds to show up his predecessor with brassy nerve and populist wisdom. Unfortunately, what appears to be studio tampering makes the movie steadily lose coherence, and a couple of important secondary characters—Donna Dixon (another psychiatrist) and Walter Matthau (a con artist along for the ride)—seem to get shortchanged in the process. But it's agreeable fun while it lasts, and what remains of the script—by Steven Kampmann, Will Porter, and Sean Stein, adapted from a Ken Kolb novel—is satirically convincing much of the time.

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