Forgotten Friday Flick – “The Couch Trip”

With such heavy, deep and dark fare taking over recent past picture selections (go Cronenberg!), its time to lighten up the rest of the summer with a few lessor known comedies starting today – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  This time out we’re jumping into the mix with a few movie oddballs for a farcical film that enlists the traditional mistaken identity plotline, but uses it to maximum comedic potential.  Seems a high profile psychiatrist and his practice is in need of a temporary replacement and who better than an alleged insane man to fill the void.  Brilliant wackos, cheating lawyers, hot doctors and jelly doughnuts without the jelly make up the merry mayhem of…The Couch Trip!

John Burns, Jr. is a smart man with a criminal record involving computer hacking and the like.  Scheming, sarcastic and super sharp, John even managed to escape the confines of conventional prison by convincing the powers that be that he’s crazy and as such is currently a locked down patient at a Chicago mental facility.  But unfortunately the bright Burns has caught the ire of head psychiatrist Dr. Lawrence Baird and as such faces the imminent threat of going back to prison.  So when a lawyer calls Dr. Baird looking for a temporary replacement for his famed Beverly Hills psychiatrist client and the unpredictable Burns answers the phone the crazed genius happily takes the opportunity… and Baird’s identity.  But even with his uneducated and off the cuff style immediately winning over clients via a private practice and popular radio show, how long can the bold Burns keep up the ruse?

Sounds like a standard stereotypical scenario that would come out of a show like Saturday Night Live (explains the use of Dan Aykroyd as the biting Burns!), but the elements within the highly underrated The Couch Trip elevate the material far beyond its overused premise.  For starters the film is helmed by the late great Director Michael Ritchie and those of us who grew up in the 80’s know his work is in a genre class unto itself.  Adding his own originality by mixing hilarious comedic bits into unlikely areas like drama (see Diggstown!), fantasy (Eddie Murphy’s The Golden Child!) and detective work (the two Fletch films with Chevy Chase!), Ritchie made a career out of keeping the audience on their toes in the world of funny films and The Couch Trip is by far his most underappreciated.  And while the comedy does take more center stage here, especially due to a colorful high profile players and a script filled with a bevy of beautiful one-liners, there are still a few melancholy movie moments that keep the film out of bargain bin territory and alongside Ritchie’s career best work.

But even if only killer characters and comedy are the order of the day for The Couch Trip, Ritchie’s cast is up to the task.  Previously mentioned Dan Aykroyd keeps the hilarity at an all time high as the lead clever crook Burns, the iconic Walter Matthau almost steals the show as his surly pill popping sidekick Donald, Charles Grodin is at his low-key best as the depressed ‘needing space’ Beverly Hills Dr. George Maitlin and Richard Romanus shines as his slimy lawyer Harvey Michaels.  Plus the smaller side characters – Donna Dixon as the fetching Dr. Laura Rollins, Mary Gross as Grodin’s wide-eyed wife, David Clennon as the obtuse real Dr. Baird, Arye Gross as Romanus’s second in command ‘yes man’ and even some spirited Victoria Jackson – all bring their own unique fun to the film.  (Note the cameo by Chevy Chase as the ‘Condom Father!”)

Some did not dig the delightfully droll wares of The Couch Trip when it came out and in the face of story scenarios coming around again and again it’s not hard on the surface to see why.  But for those looking beyond the basic premise for a film that delivers on the funny and is never afraid to do anything for a laugh (that’s a pure 80’s motto!) then perhaps this more than diverting little ditty could be just what the doctor ordered – The Couch Trip is a comedy cure.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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