Title: Analyze This
Country: USA, Australia
Language: English, Italian
Genre: Comedy, Crime
Director: Harold Ramis
Music: Howard Shore
Cinematography: Stuart Dryburgh
Robert De Niro
In remembrance of the late writer-director Harold Ramis, whose GROUNDHOG DAY (1993) is one of my all-time favorite comedies, ANALYZE THIS is another hoot although actually it is the brainchild of De Niro and Crystal, a farcical pastiche of De Niro’s classic mafia mien (from THE GODFATHER: PART II 1974 to GOODFELLAS 1990 and CASINO 1995), he plays Paul Vitti, the notorious mobster boss, survives an assassination from his rival Primo (Palminteri) lately but horrified to find out his masculinity has been chipped away by certain panic attacks, he becomes a gun-shy and over-sentimental cry-baby, what’s more vexing, his bed performance is effected as well. Therefore in order to solve the crisis, he visits a shrink, Dr. Ben Sobel (Chrystal), for treatment.
The comic clash germinates from Paul’s frequent and bossy interruptions of Ben’s merry daily life, and even (not on purpose though) jeopardizes his wedding ceremony with Laura (Kudrow) by throwing a clumsy hit-man out for the window. Further on, things get messier when FBI bluntly involved and the film starts to lose its momentum, a test of their friendship is put at front, it meanders into a buddy buddy feel-good dud, the therapy gets the due breakthrough and thing finishes with a prosaic fracas, fortunately the two actors are the saving grace, De Niro’s comic bent has been teased out nicely, which sadly would be over-exploited since then and now is on the verge of repetitive fatigue. Crystal contrives a more natural performance and he is a genuine poker-face humorist, it is not a demanding role for him, but his jest of a shrink’s equivocations is the face-saving act in an otherwise disappointing coda (“I’m very good at being vague!”).
Kudrow barely steps out of her Phoebe impersonation and hasn’t been given too much screen time either; character actor Joe Viterelli, on the contrary, imbues his loyalty with self-aware sense of wisdom, steals many laughters from two protagonists as Jelly, Vitti’s heavy.
There would be a sequel ANALYZE THAT (2002) reunites the same team thanks to its commercial success, but since Kenneth Lonergan (YOU CAN COUNT ON ME 2000; MARGARET 2011) is credited as co-writer for the screenplay, one might put certain high-hope to the storytelling, I guess this project is more a salary-earning assignment than a dedicated undertaking for him, anyway, it is a middle-of-the-road Hollywood annual treatment to responsibly squeeze some lighthearted laughter and send the pay-check to their top-billed stars.