Daily Archives: January 15, 1988

The Couch Trip

From the Chicago Reader (January 15, 1988). — J.R.

the-couch-trip

While this isn’t quite the return to form for satirist Michael Ritchie (Smile, Semi-Tough) that he apparently meant it to be, given his many years in the wilderness as an anonymous contract director, it’s funny enough in spots to suggest the possibility. 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 Capraesque 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. Still, this is 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.… Read more »

Moonstruck

Good, corny fun develops when Italian-American widow Loretta Castorini (Cher) falls in love with her fiance’s brother Ronny Cammareri (Nicolas Cage). Director Norman Jewison and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley milk the New York settings, accents, and folkways for all they’re worth–although those familiar with certain Manhattan locations may be dismayed to find them transplanted in Brooklyn–and the broad Italian family humor gets so thick at times that you could cut it with a bread knife. Among the “adorable” secondary cast are Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, Julie Bovasso, and Feodor Chaliapin, but most of the show belongs to Cher and Cage, both of whom are at their energetic best. Dick Hyman is in charge of the hyperbolic music, which starts off with “That’s Amore” to clue us all in to what we should expect. (Hillside Square, Old Orchard, Norridge, Chicago Ridge, Grove, Ridge, River Oaks, Woodfield, Ford City East, Yorktown, Deerbrook, Water Tower)… Read more »