Ben Sobol, Psychiatrist, has a few problems: His son spies on his patients when they open up their heart, his parents don't want to attend his upcoming wedding and his patients' problems don't challenge him at all. Paul Vitti, Godfather, has a few problems as well: Sudden anxiety attacks in public, a certain disability to kill people and his best part ceasing service when needed. One day, Ben unfortunately crashes into one of Vitti's cars. The exchange of Ben's business card is followed by a business visit of Don Paul Vitti himself, who wants to be free of inner conflict within two weeks, before all the Mafia Dons meet. Now, Ben Sobol feels somewhat challenged, as his wedding is soon, his only patient keeps him busy by regarding Ben's duty as a 24 hour standby and the feds keep forcing him to spy on Paul Vitti. And how do you treat a patient who usually solves problems with a gun? Written by
Julian Reischl <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal form the perfect shtick. *** out of ****.
ANALYZE THIS / (1999) ***
It has been a long time since I have seen a comic duo form a better shtick than Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal in the mob comedy "Analyze This," a smart, amusing satire from director Harold Ramis ("Multiplicity," "Groundhog Day"). For a movie like this to succeed past a commercial level, chemistry between the main characters must be amiable and spirited. Crystal and DeNiro indeed mold amiable incentive between themselves, therefore quite a few hilarious moments emerge from their perception of the well-written script by Kenneth Lonergan, Peter Tolan, and Ramis himself.
"Analyze This" details the lives of two very different individuals. The first person is played by Billy Crystal, a calm, cool, and collected psychiatrist named Ben Sobol, who is divorced with a young teenage son and is engaged to soon wed a resigning TV reporter named Laura MacNamara (Lisa Kudrow). Ben is currently dealing with a emotional patient (Molly Shannon) distressed because her spouse left and filed a restraining order on her. This woman's problems will seem like nothing when Ben obtains his new client.
Robert DeNiro plays the second person this movie examines, the most powerful mobster in the city of New York, Paul Vitti. He and his accomplices, including a chubby and clumsy bodyguard named Jelly (Joe Viterelli), are in the process of significant business when Vitti experiences an anxiety attack. On the road to a nervous breakdown, this emotionally vulnerable man comes to Ben after Jelly briefly encounters the therapist during a minor car accident. Ben is very nervous with his new patient, who forces compliments and demands upon him.
The first confrontation sequence between Ben and Paul is quite engaging. There is an instant odd couple chemistry among the two characters. The witty sessions Sobol and Vitti consummate are also very imaginative and smart. The scenes also have the intelligence to take Vitti's emotional problems seriously.
The setup accurately introduces both the gangsters and the psychiatrist's family. We understand the mob boss's feelings of stress and depression; this picture is not all shallow slapstick comedy, there is a dimensional human touch. The film takes its conflicts seriously, but executes them in a cute humorous style. The audience can also relate to Billy Crystal's character, who is an average Joe with a typical American family in a complicated situation in which he is not entirely sure how to handle.
Both external and internal conflicts are interestingly accomplished, well structured, presented, and written. The film does a good job of convincingly bringing the world of mobsters to life with well-cast actors and their rich, stylish accents.
Paul Vitti's sexual life needed more exploration; although his adulterous intentions do induce a few laughs, the story could have gone somewhere with his infidelity. Vitti's family is also irresolute. The film almost never portrays them on screen and seldom does Paul himself discuss his children and wife. The Lisa Kudrow character is furthermore underwritten, never thoroughly examined and very shallow. The lack of chemistry amid Kudrow and Crystal leads to the unconvincing relationship Ben occupies.
Robert DeNiro is the perfect option for the comic role of Paul Vitti, who is a more difficult character than it may appear. DeNiro triggers a sharp comic edge and gives the right amount of exaggerated sentimentality to Vitti. Lisa Kudrow is fun to watch, producing a dim-minded character whimsically similar to the one in her hit TV sitcom "Friends." Chazz Palminteri and Joe Viterelli contribute different but energetic supporting roles.
"Analyze This" is unmistakably the right kind of movie for Billy Crystal. I am unaware of another Hollywood comedian who could have conquered his role with more proficiency and mirth; he is one of the main components that makes "Analyze This" work well. Harold Ramis's comedy obviously borrows ideas from past comparable films like "Grosse Point Blank" and "Mafia," but as this production proves, just because it was done before doesn't mean it cannot be successfully accomplished again with the right casting.
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