Analyze This (1999)
“New York’s most powerful gangster is about to get in touch with his feelings. YOU try telling him his 50 minutes are up.”
Analyze This (1999)
Director: Harold Ramis
Cast: Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow
Synopsis: A comedy about a psychiatrist whose number one-patient is an insecure mob boss.
Spare a thought for the beleaguered mob leader. His career of choice might provide him with the luxuries of life, but few realise the levels of stress that accompanies their position. Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro – The Family, American Hustle) not only has a mob to run, but must dodge the bullets fired by those who covet his position, and which claimed the life of his predecessor. Such pressures are sure to take their toll, and Vitti finds himself suffering panic attacks at the most inopportune moments. Fortunately, his right-hand man Jelly (Joe Viterelli, an actor born to play hoods) literally ran in to a psychiatrist the night before Vitti confides in him, and sets up a meeting with Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), a man whose career, until that fateful traffic collision, had been on autopilot.
DeNiro capitalises on his reputation for playing tough gangster types – in the likes of Goodfellas and Casino, in particular – to good effect as stricken mobster Vitti. He’s played on this reputation a number of times since, to the point where he’s now as familiar to audiences as a comic tough guy as he once was as a straight hood, but it was still a relatively fresh move back in 1999 and much of the humour from Analyze This was to be found in the incongruity of his casting. Conversely, comedian Billy Crystal plays the straight man, and resigns himself to taking a back seat to both De Niro and the colourful characters in his mob. They’re a likeable bunch thanks to the fact that the movie wisely steers clear of inspecting their criminal activities, or at least glosses over them.
Analyze This is at its best when focusing on the interaction between the increasingly demanding but responsive Vitti and the increasingly frustrated Sobel, but gets side-tracked too often by the doctor’s impending marriage to WASP-ish fiancee Laura (Lisa Kudrow), and descends into farcical silliness when Sobel has to unexpectedly stand in for Vitti at a meeting of all mob bosses. Nevertheless, there are a few solid laughs to be found in a comedy which was considered strong enough to warrant a sequel.
(Reviewed 28th December 2013)