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Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal square off in `Analyze This,' a satirical look at `family' life from director Harold Ramis. After witnessing a hit on a colleague outside a restaurant (and narrowly escaping the same fate himself, thanks to the need of a toothpick), mob boss Paul Vitti (De Niro) finds himself overcome with panic attacks. He sweats, cries at the drop of a hat, and can't breathe. With a vital meeting only two weeks away, he realizes he needs help, quickly, and sends one of his men, Jelly (Joe Viterelli), in search of a `shrink.' Coincidentally, Jelly has just been rear-ended in traffic by Dr. Ben Sobol (Crystal), who just happens to be a psychiatrist. And Jelly has his business card. Unable to discourage the adamant Vitti, Sobol acquiesces and agrees to treat him exclusively for two weeks, though he is less than enthusiastic about being pressed into the service of a well-known criminal; even less enthused, however, is his fiancee, Laura (Lisa Kudrow). The ensuing repartee between Vitti and Sobol, served up with snappy dialogue and impeccable timing, takes this comedy, artistically and otherwise, to the highest level. De Niro and Crystal are absolutely outstanding, infusing their characters with every possible nuance, while successfully avoiding the stereotypes that lesser actors may have relied upon here. The two play so well off of one another that the humor virtually seems to explode spontaneously. All the while, the likable Kudrow more than holds her own with her co-stars, proving, unequivocally, that there is so much more to her than just being a great `Friend.' Credit must go to Ramis, as well, for keeping things on an even keel throughout. There's funny scenes aplenty in this film, especially the ones in which the loyal but somewhat thick-headed thug, Jelly, or the winsome Laura take part. The most memorable, though, is one in which Dr. Sobol dreams that he is Don Vito Corleone in the movie `The Godfather,' when he is shot while buying some fruit. This is parody at its finest. Written by Ramis, Ken Lonergan and Peter Tolan, and with a supporting cast that includes Chazz Palminteri (Primo), Richard C. Castellano (Jimmy), Kyle Sabihy (Ben's son, Michael) , Molly Shannon (Caroline) and Elizabeth Bracco (Marie Vitti), `Analyze This' will keep you laughing and `doing lines' (`You...you're good, yes, you are...yes, you are!') long after the credits have faded from the screen. I rate this one 10/10.
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.
This wasn't "hilarious" as everyone told me it was, but it was still
very enjoyable and pretty solid entertainment. Although a comedy, it
has violence and a lot of profanity.
Robert De Niro, as usual, is excellent and once again surprises viewers with his comedic talent. He plays a mobster (familiar territory) but one who needs psychiatric help. He's hilarious when he's crying! His "shrink" is played by Billy Crystal, in an untypical low-key character role. My favorite in this film was Joe Viterelli, the fat guy-mobster who has a few very funny lines. Viterelli is one of these guys you see in a ton of gangster movies and is always interesting.
The female lead in here, Lisa Kudrow ("Laura") was not appealing to me, character-wise. Overall, a funny movie and much better than the sequel.
The charm of this movie is in the concept and perfect casting. Robert De
Niro satirizes his past performances as a Mafia boss. And Billy Crystal as
the unwitting psychiatrist who gets involved in the mess. It's truly funny
and entertaining. The movie mostly benefits from very good direction by
Harold Ramis and excellent performance by the actors and not just De Niro
The verdict: 4 of 5 stars.
Overall, I found "Analyze This" a very amusing comedy, well worth seeing.
There are a number of laugh-out-loud lines, a screamingly funny parody of
"The Godfather", and a well-chosen cast that's very funny. Movie is also
very well photographed, and is never boring for an instant.
Some minor objections, though:
(1) Robert DeNiro was funny and believable - except for his crying scenes. These scenes came across as somewhat forced.
(2) Forgotten subplots. There are a couple of subplots - one with Crystal's relationship with his father, encounters with some FBI agents - that are started up, and then dropped and forgotten about. I strongly suspect this version we saw was cut from on originally longer print.
Analyze this is a fine movie, with a great cast of likable characters
and an interesting storyline. Billy Crystal plays Ben Sobel a
psycho-therapist who practises in the shadow of his brilliant father,
and is due to marry the woman of his dreams (Lisa Kudrow). Robert De
Niro plays Paul Vitti, a mafia crime boss who is struggling with his
emotions and his libido. This satirical slant on the classic mobster
movies is excellently played out by Crystal and De Niro, who form a
formidable comedy duo, with plenty of laughs.
Rated 15 'Analyze This' doesn't shy away from profanity and violence, ensuring that it fits into the mobster theme seamlessly, delivering us a highly enjoyable movie without offending fans of the mobster genre.
I enjoyed this much more than I expected to. DeNiro hasn't had a part this good in years, and he plays it to the hilt. It will remind you why you liked him in the first place. Billy Crystal is just as good, but it DeNiro's movie all the way. Your life will not be changed by watching this, but you will enjoy it.
A complete comedy farce. Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal are both great fun and so is Joe Viterelli as De Niro's hilarious security guard Jelly. It is amusing. Nothing is wrong with the film accept its language. No one should complain about its content. Its content is meant to be funny. When mobster Paul Vitti(De Niro) is suffering anxiety attacks for some odd reason, he sees a shrink named Ben Sobel(Crystal) to solve his tragedys and ways to move through the mob. The idea is small and it stretches out too far but its still great fun. To me this is De Niro's best comic performance of all. The most hilarious part in the film has to be where Crystal is in the church getting hugged by a stranger. An 8.3/10.
STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A
Instead*Avoid At All Costs
Analyze This is not one of the best comedies ever,but it's certainly one of the best,inventive and most original in a long while.The script and comic timing are an ingenius success,and it's also intelligently compact,giving it little room to become ponderous and repetitive.Veteran gangster stars Chazz Palmenteri and Robert DeNiro gleefully lampoon their nasty gangster roles,to both chilling and uproarously funny effect.In the scenes where his charecter cries,DeNiro manages to stir up the emotions,but because he and his henchmen have such repulsive attitudes towards everyone,it's hard to like them,a detrimental thing in a comedy.The Italian-American's chemistry with co star Billy Crystal probably was'nt the most inspired or clever ever ,and Lisa Kudrow,not an overly talented performer anyway,is unintentionally wasted here in a mostly pointless role,and,like DeNiro,her relationship with Crystal is'nt the easiest to digest.Despite these minor hiccups however,AT is a hugely superior comic success ,with moments of absolute laugh out loud hilarity,and moments to touch the heart.Very impressive.****
Robert De Niro has one of the best faces in Hollywood. And by that, I mean
that a simple facial contortion can send the audience into a fit of
laughter, or send a chill down their spine. In "Taxi Driver," his devilish,
wide-toothed smile portrayed a sense of fascination and pleasure -- his
character was being bombarded with images that made him feel happy, and
almost hysterical, in a strange sort of way. When he stared into that mirror
and asked whom we were talkin' to, he smiled because he was sick and liked
the idea of having the control, and enjoyed picturing the end
In "Analyze This," when he stares at Billy Crystal with his iconic "Who you talkin' to?" glare, it is not out of pleasure, but out of sheer amazement. In short, he is asking everyone in the room (and the audience) if he's the only one who's seeing what's going on, and the complete absurdity of it all. Watching De Niro's face in "Analyze This," and listening to the accompanying comical speeches, is the pure pleasure of the film. He steals the show.
Paul Vitti (De Niro) is having problems. Lately he has been unable to work up enough will power to kill hostages, gain an erection, and has been found crying for forty minutes after watching bittersweet commercials on television. Normally this might be considered normal (for the most part, at least), but the problem is that Vitti is a Mob Boss in New York City, meaning that if he can't muster up enough strength to carry out his duties, word of his weaknesses will travel, and he'll soon find himself sleeping with the fishes.
Ben Sobel (Crystal) is a frustrated, failing psychologist trying to raise a son on his own, and keep a relationship with his girlfriend (Lisa Kudrow) from falling apart. When he smashes into the back of Vitti's car, the Mafia kingpin's right-hand-man, Jelly (the late Joe Viterelli), asks him to help out his employer.
Sobel is of course quite reluctant to begin practice on New York's most infamous Mafia figure, but reluctantly does so after being threatened. ("You know who I am?" "Yes." "No you don't." "No I don't." "Have you read about me in the papers?" "Yes." "No you haven't." "I don't even get the paper.")
Meanwhile, a reunion of all the powerful Mafia figures in New York looms ominously nearer, and Sobel finds himself being targeted by the FBI, as well as professional hit men who find themselves being thrown out of hotel windows by Vitti. "Let me guess, he just jumped?" Sobel asks. Vitti is eager to use this as an explanation for the incident.
"Analyze This" is directed by Harold Ramis, the man who crafted "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray, and who also played Murray's best friend in Ivan Reitman's "Stripes" (1981), about two idiots who join the Army in search of women and quick cash. Here, in what is literally one of his roughest and filthiest films, Ramis is able to poke fun at all the most iconic stereotypes of Italian-American Mafia figures. There's even a great dream sequence that mimics "The Godfather," in which Sobel wanders towards a fruit stand to buy some oranges, and finds himself assassinated by two hit men, with De Niro doing his best impersonation of cry-baby Fredo. Later, when recounting his story to Vitti in a church, the Mafia kingpin asks him, "I was Fredo? I don't think so."
You will find yourself appreciating much more of "Analyze This" if you are familiar with its content. It may not be labeled as such, but in its essence it is a spoof of the last century's best gangster films, borrowing its plot from "The Don's Analyst" and benefiting from a wonderfully surprising (and humorous) performance by De Niro, who stretched his funny bones with Martin Scorsese's "The King of Comedy" and Neil Jordan's "We're No Angels," but masters the feat of effective facial features here. It does indeed help to know a bit about Mafia movies before you see "Analyze This," but even if you don't, you're still guaranteed to have a fun time.
- John Ulmer
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