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The Couch Trip
1988 - R - 98 Mins.
Director: Michael Ritchie
Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Walter Matthau, Charles Grodin, Chevy Chase, Mary Gross
Review by: John Ulmer
To say I wasn't expecting much sitting down to watch "The Couch Trip" is an understatement. I had no idea what it was about - I thought it was going to be a journey into the realm of sexuality when I heard Chevy Chase played a condom man and the movie's title involves the word "couch trip," *wink, wink.* Then I figured out that it had something to do with a mental institute and a patient escaping. My expectations dropped even lower.

I was literally expecting a grin movie - the type where you grin once and walk out feeling a bit cheated. And in a way, this is cheap comedy - it doesn't have the greatest gags, the plot is ludicrous, but you know what? I had a big dumb smile on my face the entire time I was watching it.

Dan Aykroyd plays John Burns, a patient at a mental hospital who may or may not actually be mental. He gives the psychiatrist, Lawrence Baird (David Clennon), plenty of grief and misery, which leads us to believe he is a sane person after all.

Following a little bit of a riot in the mental institute's cafeteria, Burns is awaiting a tongue-lashing from Baird in his office when the phone rings. Burns picks it up, pretends to be Baird, and finds out the caller on the other line, Harvey Michaels (Richard Romanus), wants the real Dr. Baird to come fill in for a radio shrink named George Maitlin (Charles Grodin), who is taking a vacation with his wife, Vera (Mary Gross). Michaels wants Baird so bad he has even booked him a ticket on an airplane.

Burns escapes the institute with the help of a receptionist, and drives to O'Hare. He gets Dr. Baird's ticket, gets on the plane, and eventually poses on the air as Dr. Baird. His show is a phenomenal success. "People love him!" one man says, and the other man replies, "It's because he actually cares about them."

Donald Becker (the late, great Walter Matthau) is an ex-mental patient who recognizes Burns' clothes to be confinement-issued pants and shirts. To keep him quiet, Burns promises Becker a percentage of his income. The secret is kept closed.

Meanwhile, Maitlin and his wife get in an argument. He flies home to end his vacation short and realizes that the man on his talk show is not, in fact, Dr. Baird after all, but no one believes him. He gets the real Dr. Baird, but unfortunately he has lost his ID so the police take them as nutcases and don't listen to their story.

Let me name just a few of the plot holes I noticed while watching this film: Burns poses as Dr. Baird, but is never asked for his ID, even when claiming his plane ticket (he was robbed, he says, but they would still make sure he is Baird). If Burns becomes so very famous, how come the real Dr. Baird in Chicago never heard people talking about him? Word travels. And finally, why would the police ever arrest Maitlin and Baird (the real Baird, that is) without following up on their stories?

To be frankly honest, I couldn't care less. I went into this movie with a closed mind and it surprised me - I really liked it. It entertained me. Its ideas are essentially ludicrous and not at all realistic, but Dan Aykroyd gives a truly spirited performance as a half-a-loon that makes "The Couch Trip" a trip worth taking.
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

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