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   ANALYZE THIS (1999) 

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CAST
Robert De Niro
Billy Crystal
Lisa Kudrow
Chazz Palminteri
Joe Viterelli
Kyle Sabihy
Bart Tangredi
Michael Straka
Molly Shannon
Richard C. Castellano

DIRECTED BY
Harold Ramis

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 99 mins.
Rating: R
Official Web Site
Genre: Comedy/Mafia


Ramis captures comedy magic again in this hysterically different take on the life of a mobster. We've all encountered the characters in ANALYZE THIS before, but they've never acted quite like this. Who knew a movie about the mob could be so funny? With a plot that could have worked just as well as a drama, Crystal and De Niro bring their comic talents to the table, playing it straight and creating one of the funniest films I've had the pleasure to sit through in a long time. One expects hilarity from Crystal, but it's De Niro, in his first true comedy in a very long time, that steals the show. Think Tony Soprano played for laughs.

De Niro plays Paul Vitti, a New York Mafia head with major anxiety problems. Ever since he was almost shot and killed leaving a local restaurant, he's unable to sleep, cries at commercials, and has panic attacks – not to mention being unable to perform sexually with his girlfriend. He seeks out the help of a local psychiatrist Ben Sobel (Crystal), so he can recover control of his emotions. After all, he has a reputation to uphold. Ben wants nothing to do with Vitti for obvious reasons, but finds his demands impossible to ignore. Vitti has 2 weeks before a major Mafia meeting and wants Ben to "cure" him by then. Ben tries to refuse, but there's really nothing he can do. Vitti wants him and there's no persuading him otherwise. He knows a member of his family, Primo (Palminteri) is out to get him and it's driving him crazy.

On top of all this, Ben is scheduled to be married in Miami the following week. Ben is relieved to get out of town and excited about his wedding to Laura (Kudrow). Unfortunately, Vitti follows him to Miami after having another panic attack, interrupting Ben's plans with mini-sessions and eventually ruining the actual ceremony. Laura is highly displeased with Vitti's presence in their life, but has no choice but to accept it. You don't say no to a powerful Mafia crime boss. Once they return to New York, Ben tries to actually help Paul, but things begin to escalate out of control. Though Ben is helping him, Paul is forced by the family to correct his show of weakness. He needs to make a choice between his loyalty to his family or his loyalty to Ben. Ben almost loses.


"What is my goal here, to make you a happy, well-adjusted gangster?"

Just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in. With the FBI about to close in, things take a truly dangerous turn at the family meeting for Ben and Paul. Paul drops a bombshell on the family that is not received well and almost costs him his life. Primo is out for blood and Paul's death is the only outcome he's willing to accept. Needless to say, our heroes escape bloodied, but victorious. As long as you're still breathing at the end of the day, it's considered a good one. Though the film is building to this climax, the family meeting goes on a little to long for it's own good. We already know who the villain is, so there's no suspense to the proceedings. It's fun to watch Crystal squirm while trying to fit in at the table, but not entirely compelling.

When I originally saw the trailer for this film, I was worried that all the funniest moments were already exposed. Boy, am I glad I was wrong. Ramis jam packs this film with honest, touching and poignant moments between these two men that are so wonderful you'll cry with laughter. He manages to bring new life to tired situations with witty dialogue and clever sight gags. Crystal and De Niro are an unlikely team, but one that works impeccably together. They make these guys likeable and believable and their timing is absolutely perfect. Kudrow makes the most of her limited screen time, giving an intelligent and funny turn as the fiancée constantly left at the altar. Of all the "Friends", she seems to be making the best role choices. Some of the situations are a bit hokey and the last third of the film drags a bit, but overall this is a first rate film. If you're looking for a comedy that will make you laugh out loud, this is one to see.


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