Analyze This

Analyze This

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

As a double act, this is perfect. Robert De Niro plays Paul Vitti, one of New York's most powerful Mafia bosses. Billy Crystal plays Dr Ben Sobol, a psychiatrist with a famous father, a broken marriage and a son who knows how to be smart, the annoying way.

Vitti is having panic attacks. His henchmen think this is not good for business. He needs help. Vitti is reluctant. Talk of shrinks makes him nervous and this is a man who eats nervous. Finally things get so bad, with Vitti weeping uncontrollably, that he is forced to meet the doctor, who happens to be small, beardy and bespectacled, with one of those unctuous smiles that hides all manner of neuroses.

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Faced with Vitti's opening gambit - "If I talk to you and I turn into a fag, I'll kill you" - Sobel can't wait to end the consultation before it has begun. He's about to marry Laura (Lisa Kudrow) in Florida and even a mobster on the verge of a nervous breakdown isn't going to stop that. Or, maybe, yes.

That is the joke. Vitti's demands have bullets attached. Sobol's life has been taken over. There is only one thing for it - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

De Niro is dangerous. He doesn't ease up just because this is comedy. When Vitti puts a gun to Sobol's head, you know he is capable of pulling the trigger. As always, his performance has absolute conviction. Crystal is subtle. He lets the other guy lead, while working on his responses. He did this to great effect in Father's Day, with Robin Williams. He does it here, underplaying the farce, in order to milk the situation of its human fallibility.

The plot doesn't add up to the sum of its parts. Kudrow is wasted and the father/son gag runs out of rope. Perhaps with Mickey Blue Eyes and others, Mafia humour has been exposed as limited. De Niro and Crystal are terrific, none the less, and Harold Ramis directs with assurance.

Reviewed on: 10 Jul 2007
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Mob boss has mental health difficulties - wants to become a "normal, well-adjusted gangster"
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Director: Harold Ramis

Writer: Kenneth Lonergan, Peter Tolan, Peter Tolan, Harold Ramis, Kenneth Lonergan

Starring: Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow, Chazz Palminteri, Kresimir Novakovic, Bart Tangredi, Michael Straka, Joseph Rigano, Joe Viterelli, Richard C. Castellano, Molly Shannon

Year: 1999

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA, Australia

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