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Analyze This

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Analyze This

Starring: Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal
Director: Harold Ramis
Rated: R
RunTime: 86 Minutes
Release Date: March 1999
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Lisa Kudrow, Molly Shannon

Review by Greg King
3 stars out of 4

Robert De Niro lightens up slightly as he takes the mickey out of the sort of character he has specialised in playing during his thirty year film career. The mannerisms are the same, as is the intensity, but in this comedy from Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day, etc) they are given a comic spin. De Niro plays Paul Vitti, a tough New York mobster who is having anxiety attacks. Desperate to find a cure before a planned meeting between all the gangster families, Vitti secretly seeks psychiatric help.

The unlucky doctor is Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), a family therapist anxious to break out of the shadow of his more famous father, an up-market psychiatrist, best selling author and multi-media personality. Although Ben recognises the challenge in working with Vitti, he is about to take a week off work and marry his fiancee (Friends' star Lisa Kudrow), a tv journalist.

However, a powerful mobster like Vitti doesn't easily take "no" for an answer, and Ben's simple life is turned upside down. He becomes heavily involved in Vitti's cut throat and violent world.

This unusual premise works a treat under Ramis' slick direction. There are plenty of superb one-liners and throw away visual gags, and even the homage to The Godfather works beautifully. In one scene, Ben tries to explain complex Freudian concepts to the hot headed mobster. In another, Vitti turns the tables on Ben by probing his fears, thus proving that even gangsters have rare insights into human nature.

De Niro doesn't make many comedies (the disappointing We're No Angels is a rare exception), but he seems to be enjoying himself in a rare comic role that enables him to put a different spin on the type of character that he has made his own. In a welcome return to form, Crystal holds his own against the volatile and intimidating De Niro. Kudrow, who added spark to the wonderful The Opposite Of Sex, is given little to do as Ben's fastidious fiancee. Chazz Palminteri (The Usual Suspects, etc) is also wasted in a small and increasingly familiar role as a tough gangster who'd rather exchange bullets than words. If anyone comes close to stealing the acting honours it is Joe Viterelli (Bullets Over Broadway, etc), who gives a wonderful performance as Vitti's rotund body guard, the aptly named Jelly.

Analyze This is a far cry from the mean streets that De Niro ordinarily inhabits, but it is an interesting and entertaining diversion through less travelled territory for, arguably, America's greatest living screen actor.

Copyright 2000 Greg King

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