106 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, March 5, 1999
Directed by Harold Ramis
Starring Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow & Chazz Palminteri
SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 10%|
LETTERBOX: NOT NECESSARY
One of a rare breed of movie that might actually improve on video, "Analyze This" won't feel so disappointing in the comfort of your own home. A good movie for doing chores to. Sadly, there's nothing that could improve the self-distructing last act.
VIDEO RELEASE: 8/17/99
De Niro, Crystal just miss in comedy about whimpering wise guy and his intimidated shrink
Yes, "Analyze This" has many generous bursts of hilarity, especially with Robert De Niro goofing on the kind of mobster roles that made him by playing a mafioso with high anxiety.
Yes, casting him as a hoodlum headcase opposite Billy Crystal as his reluctant shrink is damn funny all by itself.
No, this isn't enough to carry the picture. In fact "Analyze This" degrades so dramatically that in the last act Crystal is reduced to ad libbing through an over-long mock-wise guy schtick, taking his best shot at Robin Williams-dom and tanking.
From the early going the movie is funny, but plagued by pacing problems and jokes that require entire scenes to set up a single zinger.
Having become an insomniac through the stress of a turf war, kingpin De Niro has his most trusted henchman quietly find him a psychiatrist, played with nervous hesitation by Crystal.
Their first meeting is supposed to be comically tense, but while Crystal's duress comes through clearly enough, De Niro seems to be sleep-walking through his intimidation tactics. But by the end of the scene, he's feeling pretty good about himself.
"The load?" he says, "Gone! Where is it? I don' know. Youse have a gift, my friend."
"No, I don't," Crystal says sheepishly.
"YES, you do!" De Niro glares with violent, funny compulsion.
The next thing the shrink knows, there's a huge fountain in his yard. A gift from his new client.
Directed by Harold Ramis, who has a spotty track record ("Groundhog Day" on the one hand, "Multiplicity" on the other), "Analyze This" has bright moments of whimsical inspiration, most of them revolving around the often impromptu therapy sessions. When Crystal tells him to take out frustration by hitting a pillow, De Niro pulls out a hand cannon and blasts holes in his couch. Apprised of the meaning of the term Oedipal complex, De Niro wrinkles his nose and pronounces "@#$%&-ing Greeks."
The story stalls when it becomes dependent on the mobster's physiological problems disrupting plans for the shrink's impending marriage to a TV reporter, played by Lisa Kudrow. And that part of the plot is already full of holes on its own, not the least of which is that Kudrow and Crystal are a highly improbable couple even before they open their mouths to argue.
The rest of the movie is mocked mob cliches (rival mobster Chazz Palminetri shouting "I want him dead, dead, DEAD!" and in the same breath, "Do you like these pants?") colliding with comical wedding disaster cliches, and a little FBI coercion thrown in to create a doctor-patient confidentiality crisis that threatens to end with the analyst in concrete galoshes because he knows too much.
By the time Crystal's ad lib catastrophe rolls around -- he pretends to be a Jewish-Italian consigliere representing De Niro at a meeting of top level mob bosses -- "Analyze This" has already been out of steam for a good 40 minutes.