New York’s most powerful gangster becomes the new head of his crime family. The Feds want him out. The leader of another family wants him dead. Analyze This (Warner Bros.) purposely pushes all the Hollywood mobster clich?s but adds a comedic twist. The result is a surprisingly heart-warming film with fresh, witty writing.
Analyze This follows Paul Vitti (Robert DeNiro, Ronin), a New York mobster preparing to become the leader of his crime family. Growing up surrounded by the mob and having his father gunned down, Vitti knows what the job entails. And with the aid of Manetta, Vitti’s surrogate father and mentor, Vitti is well aware of his future responsibilities.
Vitti, however, suddenly starts having trouble breathing. His loyal henchmen are curious about his anxious attitude. His family finds him distant and removed and even his mistress wonders why his performance isn’t up to par. Vitti begins to worry whether he can run his business with the panic attacks he’s been suffering.
A divorced psychiatrist with a teenage son from the New York suburbs, Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal, Deconstructing Harry) is preparing to marry his fianc?e, Laura MacNamara (Lisa Kudrow, “Friends”). His profession forces him to endure boring and neurotic patients who endlessly complain about trivial matters. In one deliciously amusing scene, Ben imagines himself screaming “Get a life!” at one of his patients.
The most underdeveloped part of the plot is Ben’s relationship with his father, a pretentious but successful Upper East Side therapist. Although Ben prefers to squander through monotonous days of work than become like his media-hungry parents, he still is disturbed by their relationship.
Ben leads an ordinary life – well, until he accidentally rear-ends the car driven by Vitti’s chump bodyguard, Jelly (Joseph Viterelli, Eraser). Although Ben insists on exchanging insurance information, Vitti’s people obviously do not want the police to get involved. When Ben hands Jelly a business card for contact purposes, he doesn’t realize what he’s getting into.
When Vitti considers finding a therapist to cure his panic attacks, Jelly gives him Ben’s card. Before long, Vitti and his entourage barge into Ben’s office, bedroom and even his wedding. They need Ben to cure Vitti before the impending crime-family meeting that will determine whether Vitti becomes Don.
DeNiro’s character differs greatly from the dark, disturbing roles he played in movies such as The Godfather: Part II, Cape Fear and Heat. In Analyze This, DeNiro comically weeps, whimpers and gets in touch with his “sensitive side.” DeNiro’s character offers a refreshing break from the attempted assaults and beatings in the film.
The chemistry between Crystal and DeNiro is entertaining. Vitti’s affect on Ben surfaces at the end of the film when Ben pretends to be Vitti’s official consultant, wearing a shiny, oversized Armani suit, slapping Jelly silly and speaking with an Italian accent – “eh, oh . oh, eh.”
Analyze This combines intelligent characters, witty one-liners and clever overtones of the beloved Godfather movies. The movie is sure to be a hit with fans of mobster films. Capice?