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Analyze This

Review by Jason Morrison

What could the producers of Analyze This possibly have been thinking when they named the movie? Analyze This? It sounds like some Leslie Nielsen-starring, straight-to-video, throw-away comedy.

Luckily it's not. The movie stars Billy Crystal as psychiatrist Ben Sobel. Ben's dad overshadows him, his kid is a bit sarcastic, and his patients are too pathetic. But he's about marry the beautiful Laura MacNamara (Lisa Kudrow) and take a vacation. That's when he bumps into a car driven by a couple maffia gangsters.

One of those gangsters is Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro), head of an important family. Vitti has been feeling a bit off lately -- he just can't seem to kill in cold blood like he used to, he's having trouble in the sack, and even starts crying for no reason at all. As an important meeting approaches he realizes he needs help, so he goes to Sobel for counseling.

Needless to say Sobel has problems with the arrangement. Vitti is used to be obeyed immediately and not being asked questions, hardly good attitudes when going to a shrink. Sobel has to call off his other appointments, skip vacation, and his wedding is ruined, twice.

But as the two get used to the way each other operate, some progress is made. As Sobel reaches the root of Vitti's anxiety attacks, the meeting approaches, the FBI go after Vitti and Vitti is ordered to kill Sobel-he knows too much.

Oh, yeah, and it's a comedy. Not a laugh-till-your-face-hurts comedy, but much more entertaining and light hearted than your average Godfather. The writers poke fun at the gangster movie genre throughout, but never specifically enough to step outside the story line. It's a good story, too, with some good lines here and there as well.

Crystal and De Niro make a good pair, each completely natural in their roles and often quite sarcastic towards each other. De Niro gets the best lines, though he underplays them, and Crystal's best lines are always followed by apologies, which makes sense given the situation.

What is there to say about De Niro as a gangster? He's really, really good at this role. Even adding the little twist of a gangster losing his touch doesn't seem like much of a challenge to him. If they made a musical starring him as a Martian gangster, he'd probably carry the movie. It was weird, though seeing him cry. Not poorly done, but unexpected.

Crystal is also in familiar territory. His character is emotionally very similar to the one in City Slickers and a few of his other films. But he's got it down. Thankfully he doesn't spend too much of the film complaining about how unbelievable the situation is. No kidding it's unbelievable, it's a movie.

I think special kudos should go to Joe Viterelli who plays Vitti's right hand man Jelly. His character, though not too bright, was sharp-Viterelli made it seem natural and not another movie cliché.

That name still bothers me. Analyze This? It sounds like My Giant.

Thank goodness it plays much, much better.


(Out of five)

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