Volume 92, Issue 85
Wednesday, March 10, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Analyze This is something to 'forgettabout'
Photo by Phillip Caruso
By Sarah Duda
There is something darkly attractive about the gangster lifestyle. First, they get the money. Then, the power. And of course, they get the women. Then, they get... a conscience?
Analyze This takes a humorous look at a made-guy suffering from so much stress, he's having a tough time just saying "forgettabout it." While the film will provoke a number of well deserved laughs from viewers, in the end, it amounts to little more than an average comedy.
Granted, the premise is hilarious. Robert De Niro plays Paul Vitti, a stressed-out New York mob boss whose excess emotional baggage begins to affect his performance on the job. He's got bad guys to rub out, the Federal Bureau of Investigation to evade and his family's reputation to uphold. Furthermore, the mafia seems to be suffering from the same millennial angst as the rest of us, contemplating such average stresses as whether or not they need a web site to stay competitive.
All of De Niro's stresses begin to manifest physically. Not only does he have problems satisfying his wife, he can no longer fulfill his mistresses. Clearly, De Niro is falling apart. When the panic attacks set in, he unwillingly seeks professional help.
Billy Crystal, the film's co-producer, plays De Niro's psychiatrist of choice. Crystal's performance is wonderfully funny, a nice change from his recent series of unexceptional roles in such films as Father's Day and My Giant. After reluctantly accepting De Niro as his patient, Crystal does his best to help the overworked gangster get in touch with his sensitive side.
Crystal and De Niro make a great acting duo and their shared scenes are definitely the highlight of this film. Often throughout the movie, De Niro breaks into tears. Viewers will inevitably contrast the image of a sobbing De Niro with the tough-as-nails wise guys he has portrayed in such films as Mean Streets, Goodfellas and Casino. De Niro parodies these roles to hilarious effect.
As for Crystal, the mere thought of this suburban psychiatrist trying to hold his own after getting sucked into Vitti's dangerous underworld is laughable in itself. Crystal's weenie doctor presence acts in direct antithesis to the mob atmosphere and among personas named "Tony the Tongue" and "Louis the Lips" he takes advantage of his characters' demeanor, creating some of the funniest scenes in the film.
Director Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day) has created a film with some very funny moments. However, the story lacks enough substance to sustain it for two hours. The sub-plots are simply uninteresting. One pointless story line revolves around Crystal's bride-to-be, annoyingly portrayed by Lisa Kudrow. Once again, Kudrow seems unable to break away from her signature character Phoebe on the sitcom Friends, resulting in a performance everyone has seen before.
Analyze This is a brilliant idea and had the potential to be an outstanding movie. And when it's funny, it's hysterical. However, take away the laughs and there's not much left standing but a standard studio comedy.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999