The escaped delinquent John W. Burns, Jr. replaces Dr. Maitlin on a radio show, saying he's the psychiatrist Lawrence Baird. His tactless radio show is a hit, and he becomes very popular. But then Dr. Maitlin meets the real Dr. Lawrence Baird at a congress in London...Written by
Tony Kessen <email@example.com> typos corrected by Hikari
Michael Ritchie's "The Couch Trip" is a wonderfully anarchic comedy about what makes a good psychiatrist. It is so subtle and wicked that you start to realize what a stinging satire it really is. It is also Dan Akyroyd's best movie, made in a particularly great film year (1988)for him. First, "The Great Outdoors" and now this.
Akyroyd stars as John Burns, a career crook who fakes insanity to escape prison. Now, a dumb comedy would just be about this. But "The Couch Trip" uses this as a springboard for everything else. Beverly Hills psychiatrist George Maitlin (Charles Grodin, subtly hilarious here)has a nervous breakdown and a replacement is selected: Lawrence Baird, who happens to be Akyroyd's psychiatrist! You can pretty much guess what's going to happen, but the great thing about "The Couch Trip" is not what happens, but how it is done.
"The Couch Trip" gives Dan Akyroyd the best role he has ever had. His John Burns is one of the truly original comic creations in movie history. Wicked one liners and physical humor are a part of it, but what makes it special is that Akyroyd makes Burns a lovable character. We root for him and grow to like him a whole lot during the 98 minute running time.
But Akyroyd isn't alone here. He gets strong support from other great comic actors. Walter Matthau joins the hilarity as a con artist minister who catches on to Burns' secret and commits genteel blackmail. Charles Grodin "slow burns" his way to another great comic role as the burned out psychiatrist. Grodin has been one of the most underappreciated actors in Hollywood. It's criminal they haven't used him more often. Richard Romanus plays Grodin's slimeball lawyer to perfection.
"The Couch Trip" is one of many films made by the now-defunct Orion Pictures Corporation that are currently unseen. MGM spent a fortune buying the Orion library but have yet to truly cash in on their acquisition. "The Couch Trip" joins "Dressed to Kill", "Blow Out" and countless others in gathering dust rotting in the vault. Shame on MGM for their inaction. Hopefully, with new management, "The Couch Trip" will find the audience and respect it deserves.
**** out of 4 stars
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