Meanwhile, Billy Crystal, who hasn't done anything memorable since Mr.
Saturday Night (1992) unless you want to count the Oscar shows
he's hosted desperately needs a success to put him back in the public's
(and the producers') good graces. Though he's not making much of a stretch
here either, playing a jewish guy with an ascerbic sense of humor, this
might be his ticket out of the doldrums created by his latest flop, My Giant. If nothing else, the contrast De Niro
and Crystal provide each other will help them both.
Paul Vitti (De Niro), New York mobster, suffers from job-related stress.
He can't kill people, he can't watch people die, he can't even watch a sentimental
TV commercial without bursting into tears. Living in the shadow of his great
father, the capo di tutti capi, he mustn't let a psychological disorder
ruin his reputation, so he goes to see a "shrink" named Ben Sobel
(Crystal). Ben, who also has trouble living up to the ideals of his famous
analyst father (Bill Macy), finds himself stagnating in his profession.
He feels like he needs a change, but Vitti is not exactly what he had in
mind. Still, he agrees to treat him, because Vitti truly does seem to be
in pain. And because he might kill him if he refuses.
The trouble is, Ben is about to be married to the beautiful but dippy
news anchor Laura MacNamara (Lisa Kudrow, who is making a career out of
playing dippy people), and Vitti and his friends keep interrupting things.
Like the wedding.
Neither De Niro nor Crystal will win any stretching awards for this,
but director Ramis (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day) deserves some
credit for keeping the pace moving and the dialogue clicking. There are
many rapid-fire scenes between the two leads that showcase their talents
nicely, and the script, written by Ken Lonergan (story) and Peter Tolan,
with some help from Ramis, is funny and unassuming. The high point is a
dream sequence re-creating the scene from The Godfather where Marlon
Brando gets shot buying oranges. It is a shot-for-shot copy, including the
overhead view of the oranges cascading all over the street and the close-up
of the assassins' guns held high, but with Crystal in the Brando role and
De Niro (instead of John Cazale) kneeling over him, pathetically crying,
"Papa! Papa!" This clever idea works brilliantly, especially since
De Niro played Brando's role as a young man in The Godfather, Part II.
I must say, Kudrow is quite disappointing here; although she has only a peripheral role, her usual airhead performance drags the comedy down considerably, and her make-up looks pasty and unattractive, as does that of several others in the film. An enjoyable performance is given by Joe Viterelli as Vitti's right-hand-man, Jelly. Every menacing mobster needs a fat-but-lovable sidekick. Viterelli and Chazz Palminteri, who plays Vitti's enemy, have both been seen in plenty of other mob flicks, and know the parts well. Analyze This is nothing new, especially for its stars, but it's good fun nonetheless. ****
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