By Rob Blackwelder
Yes, "Analyze This" has many generous burstsof hilarity, especially with Robert De Niro goofing on the kind of mobsterroles that made him by playing a mafioso with high anxiety.
Yes, casting him as a hoodlum headcase opposite Billy Crystalas his reluctant shrink is damn funny all by itself.
No, this isn't enough to carry the picture. In fact "AnalyzeThis" degrades so dramatically that in the last act Crystal is reducedto ad libbing through an over-long mock-wise guy schtick, taking his bestshot at Robin Williams-dom and tanking.
From the early going the movie is funny, but plagued bypacing problems and jokes that require entire scenes to set up a singlezinger.
Having become an insomniac through the stress of a turfwar, kingpin De Niro has his most trusted henchman quietly find him a psychiatrist,played with nervous hesitation by Crystal.
Their first meeting is supposed to be comically tense,but while Crystal's duress comes through clearly enough, De Niro seemsto be sleep-walking through his intimidation tactics. But by the end ofthe scene, he's feeling pretty good about himself.
"The load?" he says, "Gone! Where is it?I don' know. Youse have a gift, my friend."
"No, I don't," Crystal says sheepishly.
"YES, you do!" De Niro glares with violent, funnycompulsion.
The next thing the shrink knows, there's a huge fountainin his yard. A gift from his new client.
Directed by Harold Ramis, who has a spotty track record("Groundhog Day" on the one hand, "Multiplicity"on the other), "Analyze This" has bright moments of whimsicalinspiration, most of them revolving around the often impromptu therapysessions. When Crystal tells him to take out frustration by hitting a pillow,De Niro pulls out a hand cannon and blasts holes in his couch. Apprisedof the meaning of the term Oedipal complex, De Niro wrinkles his nose andpronounces "@#$%&-ing Greeks."
The story stalls when it becomes dependent on the mobster'sphysiological problems disrupting plans for the shrink's impending marriageto a TV reporter, played by Lisa Kudrow. And that part of the plot is alreadyfull of holes on its own, not the least of which is that Kudrow and Crystalare a highly improbable couple even before they open their mouths to argue.
The rest of the movie is mocked mob cliches (rival mobsterChazz Palminetri shouting "I want him dead, dead, DEAD!" andin the same breath, "Do you like these pants?") colliding withcomical wedding disaster cliches, and a little FBI coercion thrown in tocreate a doctor-patient confidentiality crisis that threatens to end withthe analyst in concrete galoshes because he knows too much.
By the time Crystal's ad lib catastrophe rolls around --he pretends to be a Jewish-Italian consigliere representing De Niro ata meeting of top level mob bosses -- "Analyze This" has alreadybeen out of steam for a good 40 minutes.
Run time: 103 mins
In Theaters: Friday 5th March 1999
Box Office Worldwide: $176.9M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros., Spring Creek Productions, Tribeca Productions, Baltimore Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 70 Rotten: 32
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: Harold Ramis
Starring: Robert De Niro as Paul Vitti, Billy Crystal as Dr. Ben Sobel, Lisa Kudrow as Laura MacNamara Sobel, Chazz Palminteri as Primo Sidone, Joe Viterelli as Jelly, Molly Shannon as Caroline, Kyle Sabihy as Michael Sobel, Frank Pietrangolare as Tuna, Ron Madoff as Extra Sea World Scene
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