Analyze This
Rating -

Comedy (US); 1999; Rated R; 103 Minutes

Robert DeNiro: Paul Vitti
Billy Crystal: Ben Sobel
Lisa Kudrow: Laura MacNamara
Joe Viterelli: Jelly
Chazz Palminteri: Primo Sindone

Produced by Len Amato, Bruce Berman, Chris Brigham, Billy Crystal, Suzanna Herrington, Jane Rosenthal and Paula Weinstein; Directed by Harold Ramis; Screenwritten by Ken Lonergan, Peter Tolan and Harold Ramis

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Written by DAVID KEYES

"Analyze This" is that kind of movie that makes you think about the minds of the movie makers, and if those minds were "sleeping with the fishes" long before they got into the movie business. What in the world prompted them to think that this movie would pass off as great comedy? It's not just lacking in ambition, but overly done in typecasting as well. The filmmakers think that the humor will evolve naturally from the plot situations, so there's no need to be aspiring in the laugh department. But they forget that we've seen these people portray these exact characters in other movies, and none of it is funny.

The whole miscalculation is done by Harold Ramis, who can be funny, but seldom allows his essence of comedy to sink faithfully into the movies. With the "Ghostbusters" pictures, he wrote scripts both dimwitted and half-baked. With "Groundhog Day," he gave a new meaning to the word of "annoyance" when he took Bill Murray's life and put it on instant replay over and over again. All three pictures are not funny, and frankly, neither is "Analyze This," a movie so sluggish and corny, not even a script written by Shakespeare could have saved it. But keep in mind that the problem is not really the characters or the actors. Everything centers around the humor, which is obvious, poorly developed, and maniacally portrayed through the underbelly of Mafia typecasting.

The movie stars Robert DeNiro in a role as old as most Mafia movies. He plays Paul Vitti, a gangster suffering from anxiety attacks, probably brought on with the pressure of becoming the head of his crime family. His right-hand man, Jelly, comes across a psychiatrist named Ben (Billy Crystal), when the shrink backs into the guy's car. Seeing it as an opportunity for his boss to rid himself of all the panic, Jelly gives Ben's business card to Vitti. Before you know it, Ben finds himself trying to get the gangster in touch with his "feelings," although no one (even me) is really sure about what a gangster feels. Actually, none of the psychiatry sessions start until about halfway into the picture: the concept at the beginning lingers as Ben tries to decide on taking the case or not, meanwhile Vitti's anxiety attacks heighten, even when sentimental commercials come on TV and he breaks into tears.

The film contains a lot of running around, too: in addition to the jokes at psychiatrists and gangsters, you have two wedding ceremonies between Ben and his bride (the first was interrupted), a shouting Mafia maniac named Primo (Chazz Palminteri), and a prime chemistry between Ben and Paul, which develops well, but feels reluctant to offer more than just smiles, or for that matter, frowns. You never really laugh. The ambition level is so void that it deteriorates the whole concept beyond appreciation.

I really disliked this movie. Not just in a typical disliking way, either. I disliked it because of its lack in attempting humor, its objective, its stereotypical characters, and, most importantly, its boredom factor. Why did so many critics and viewer's laugh at it then? I dunno. Maybe they found something in it that I didn't. Maybe they didn't care that the actors were in their typical acting roles, or maybe they found it to be unique in the way both stereotypical personalities were teamed up. "Analyze This" either way has problems. For some, those problems can pass off. For others, like me, they can both annoy and distract you from much of the film's redeeming value (that is, if it had any).

1999, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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