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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.52%
Worth A Look58.62%
Average: 10.34%
Pretty Bad: 11.21%
Total Crap: 4.31%

6 reviews, 80 user ratings

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Analyze This
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Andrew Howe

"A laugh-free zone"
2 stars

I'm not sure if anyone has written the obvious five-word review of this film ("Analyze This? I'd rather not."), but much as I love the idea I believe I owe everyone a little more than that. Having just come from a repeat viewing of The Sixth Sense, I am put in mind to make this an interactive review of sorts, in which you will be able to use each of your five senses to uncover various aspects of my feelings about this film. Sound like fun? OK, limber up those aural nerves, because the first question for the day is:

What did you hear, my blue-eyed son?

Come a bit closer for a moment, close enough that these words become little more than a blur on the page. Now press the ol' ear up against the screen (unless you're reading this on an unshielded monitor, in which case you may get a lethal dose of gamma rays for your trouble). Do you hear that high-pitched keening, like a violin string that's been wound way too tight? That, my friends, is the sound of this film's creators stretching a one-note idea so thin that it's damn near translucent.

For the record, Analyze This concerns itself with the events which take place when Billy Crystal's low-key suburban psychiatrist is forced to take on Robert DeNiro's career criminal as a patient (the weight of a life filled with murder and wrongdoing having gotten him a little down, you understand). This opens the way for a bunch of laughs as this supposedly stone-hard mafia dude tries to come to terms with holding a Magnum in one hand and a box of Kleenex to dry his anxiety-induced tears in the other.

But it doesn't, because while it would make a great ten minute vignette on Saturday Night Live it doesn't possess the requisite substance to carry a ninety minute movie. Consider, if you will, the delightful scenes between John Cusack and Alan Arkin in Grosse Pointe Blank. These episodes were based on the exact same premise, but GPB's creators were canny enough to realise that it was best left as an amusing adjunct to the main storyline. After all, once you get over the initial humour of the situation there's really no particular place to go.

Such common sense appears to have eluded those responsible for Analyze This, however, and so we are treated to the cinematic equivalent of 24 hours in a labour ward. It goes on, and it goes on, and before too long you find yourself slipping into a coma of the type usually reserved for shift workers watching the Home Shopping Channel.

Memo to Ramis and friends - unless you're God, one idea is never quite enough.

Perfumed dung is still dung

OK, now stick your nose up against the screen. Take a deep breath - do you smell that nasty aroma, sort of like burning cordite? What you are smelling is the powerful stench of mendacity rising from the offices of those responsible for marketing this film as a comedy.

Every now and again somebody decides to target a comedy at an adult audience, and by that I don't mean people who have recently earned the right to go to prison for committing heinous acts (like foisting this film on an unsuspecting public, now that I think about it). I'm talking about people over the age of forty, the dead zone of the cinema-going demographic. The Birdcage springs to mind, as does Prizzi's Honour, another supposed comedy which, on the day I saw it, seemed to have attracted an audience sporting more grey hairs than the crowd at your average Tom Jones concert. It's not a particularly hard trick to pull, provided you've got a couple of actors known to appeal to an older crowd and a premise which sounds quirky enough that Grandma can feel a little daring for putting the Zimmer frame in storage while she hot-foot’s it down the local cinema.

The problem is, this is not a particularly funny film (a trait shared by a large number of the comedies which service this niche, I might add). Now I can appreciate that comedy is, more than most things, a personal preference. I thought The Princess Bride was hilarious, maybe you didn't. But I have spoken to several people about this film, and they have all admitted that the sound of their laughter was not much heard on the day they viewed this particular slice of celluloid. Part of the reason is the paper-thin premise I mentioned above, and part of it is for reasons I will discuss below. But, in the final reckoning, it is a simple fact that the majority of the jokes in this film are just not funny. It is a very mannered work, clinical and sterile in its content and execution, almost anal in the way it lumbers steadily from plot points A to Z, and ultimately it comes across as an untainted specimen of by-the-numbers filmmaking. There is no heart, there is no soul, and there's sure as heck no brain.

I can understand why someone might climb Everest because it's there, but if someone could explain why this film's creators thought scaling a mountain of cow dung was a worthy expenditure of time and effort I'd really love to hear it.

Tourism in a talent-free zone

Do you see the name in the next sentence? Lisa Kudrow. Jesus, is she an awful actress or what?

The perils of Plasticine

Place your hands up against the monitor. Do you feel that spongy gunk pressing back against you? That's the newly-formed rubber mannequin which Billy Crystal poured fresh from his one-and-only mould for the purpose of taking his place in this film.

Billy Crystal is a fine comic actor, but unfortunately his range is somewhat limited. I would posit that his performances in When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers showcased pretty much everything about his comic talent which ever needed to be said, and that everything since then has been mere regurgitation. Like Eddie Murphy, he trades on a few shticks (his perpetually morose demeanour, his unique delivery style, and a nice line in facial expressions) which tend to grow a little tired as the years go by. He's still a reasonable stand-up act, but these days you can never get over the feeling that you've seen it all before. This is not always an epitaph for a career - after all, Robin Williams has been getting away with it for years. However, it does mean that you can no longer rely on his comedic talent alone to carry a film. Analyze This attempts just that, and as a result his limitations become painfully apparent.

Put him in the midst of a top-notch ensemble, and you've probably got something on your hands. Put him in something like this, and you're just asking for trouble.

Taking the Pepsi challenge

Now I know this is going to take a little personal bravery, but I would ask you to run your tongue down the length of the screen (hope you didn't just wipe it with industrial-strength cleaner …) Can you feel your taste buds being assaulted by that bile-like substance?

That's the bad taste which this film leaves in the mouth, and is probably my single greatest reason for disparaging it.

Let's get one thing straight - this film was not marketed as a black comedy. It has none of the hallmarks of such an endeavour (such as the name "Christian Slater" in the opening credits, or quotes along the lines of "Delightfully twisted!" on the cover of the video), and as such we are entitled to believe that we are to be presented with a film which will provide a few yucks and cause us to leave the cinema infused with a general sense of well-being.

However, there is a very disturbing undercurrent of mean-spiritedness running through this movie. The blame for this can be laid squarely at the door of the screenwriters, who saw fit to allow DeNiro to reprise his roles from any number of the gangster flicks he has in his back catalogue. It has to be said that his portrayal of Paul Vitti is chillingly believable, and therein lies the root of the problem.

One the "jokes" which appears in the film features Billy Crystal asking DeNiro, in an accusing fashion, "You don't hear the word 'no' very often, do you?" To which DeNiro replies (and I'm paraphrasing here) "I hear it all the time. 'No! Please don't kill me!' 'No! Don't hurt me!'" [Cue canned laughter]

That is not funny. What we are talking about here is an attempt to elicit laughter from a situation which alludes to murder and brutality, and I wonder how amusing anyone who has ever had a loved one attacked by some scumbag found that little exchange. Now like I said, if this was a black comedy you could get away with that kind of thing. But, dammit, this is a "straight" comedy through and through. So it is that the film's creators continuously juxtapose the usual adult-oriented comedy standards (the dizzy fiancée, the smart-mouthed fat kid) with general nastiness which would not be out of place in a Scorsese film (gunfights, people flying out of tenth-storey windows, ad nauseum).

Now I will admit that this seems to have become a platform of mine in recent times, but I firmly believe that there are certain ground rules which must be abided by if you are making a certain type of film (or at least if you're going to market it as such). Analyze This breaks those rules and then some, and as a result "gently amused" becomes "vaguely disquieted" in very short order indeed. I suppose I could compliment the filmmakers for not shying away from the difficulties inherent in their premise, but since we've already proved that the concept was flawed to begin with I guess we're back where we started. Wherever the heck that is.

(Incidentally, if you want to see an example of how to do this type of thing properly, look no further than the superb Midnight Run. That film featured its share of unsettling moments, but the absence of a comic actor such as Crystal in a lead role ensured that it was presented as a drama with comedic elements. If you disagree, you know where to find me.)

So is this film all bad? Well, I suppose there are a couple of good moments (Crystal introducing DeNiro to his fiancée's parents, his attempts to cover for DeNiro at the mob meeting), but to be honest the same could be said of Porky's. Why a talented director like Ramis chose to follow Groundhog Day (being only one of the finest comedies ever released) with this mess is beyond me, for in the final reckoning what we are left with is an empty, soulless film bereft of everything which a good comedy needs to succeed.

Analyze This? I'll bet you wish you never asked.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 05/09/00 14:02:19
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User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell very funny forget the haters 4 stars
8/25/10 art WHO NEED"S THIS? 1 stars
8/19/09 Jeff Wilder Quite funny even if the premise isn't as novel as it thinks it is. 4 stars
8/23/07 Quigley De Niro and Crystal have great chemistry. One of the funniest movies I've seen in a while 5 stars
11/04/06 bobby tired ethnic comedy vehicle. Crystal is typical shmatza and DeNiro stooped to this? 2 stars
3/16/04 mr mister funny as hell, when will they make one called "analyze deez nutz? 5 stars
2/20/04 Agent Sands A contemporary classic; hilarious, well-acted, well-written. 5 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Crystal is only bright spot in this pandering-down-to comedy. 2 stars
12/31/02 Jake entertaining and at times amusing but quite forgettable and mediocre 3 stars
11/21/02 chris why the hell are they making a sequal to this crap??!! 2 stars
4/27/02 Le Chemin Moins Suivi Good cans wasted in lame misfire. 2 stars
2/10/02 Andrew Carden Other Then Funny Performances, This Film Is Stupid and Quite Confusing. 2 stars
1/12/02 R.W. Welch Slightly absurdist take on the Mafia, works pretty well most of the time. 4 stars
9/11/01 Butterbean Drags at the end. DeNiro was cute as he bursts out crying while cursing out Crystal 3 stars
8/29/01 Gary Kudrow gets typecast, Billy does Woody & DeNiro cries. That's how unsubtle this satire is. 2 stars
4/04/01 radium I liked Joe Viterelli (Jelly) here. Absolutely ripping. 4 stars
4/02/01 The Bomb 69 Deniro was good as always but there were only a few laughs 3 stars
2/16/01 James Not a bad film. VERY interesting main premise, but not totally believable. 3 stars
11/20/00 Matthew Bartley Very funny although it seemed to drag a bit 4 stars
10/13/00 Jason decent...see it if there isn't a symphony in town 4 stars
10/13/00 Josh I must have missed the funny parts.... 3 stars
10/02/00 Madoc69 De Niro proves he can do comedy with the best of them 4 stars
9/26/00 Sully not funny at fact - one of the most boring comedy's I've ever seen 1 stars
9/25/00 Muhammad not that good 3 stars
9/24/00 Jed Quite possibly the best thing for deniro/crystal. 5 stars
5/04/00 Elvisfan Very funny! 4 stars
4/10/00 Richard Wright Amusing, but having a more believable plot would have helped. Enjoyable, very forgettable. 3 stars
2/25/00 fire-n-ice funny!!! i laughed my ass off!!! 5 stars
12/30/99 hum simple but funny. see it on video when you want something funny but dont want to think 3 stars
9/27/99 Brian Most notable: DeNiro giving a deathly funny performance all while playing it very straight. 4 stars
8/03/99 dbx yawn. 1 stars
8/02/99 JimBob ok movie, but not the blockbuster it was made out to be 3 stars
7/29/99 PRM Loved it, Deniro great as always 4 stars
7/24/99 jvt One-note, nothing special 3 stars
7/23/99 Geoff Stang Sucked and thats it. funny in parts but as a whole it blew. 2 stars
6/28/99 Ricardo In spite of Billy Crystal it's pure fun but the idea could be better explored 4 stars
6/26/99 David It's real funny, what more do you want? 4 stars
6/13/99 Costars Serious solution to depression! 4 stars
5/29/99 Voyant For once, an original comedy. 5 stars
5/07/99 Diptherio I HATE THAT GIRL FROM FRIENDS 1 stars
4/30/99 Derf Ttoille Deniro, Crystal --- 'nough said! 5 stars
4/17/99 Dan Moore Deniro's crying scenes was one of the only times that I cringed at his acting ability. 4 stars
4/13/99 little jerry Entertaining flick.Loved DeNiro sobbing on the ground while Crystal went"Bang,Bang". 4 stars
4/12/99 Randall See it once, not as good with repeated viewing 4 stars
4/11/99 Alonzo For once Billy Crystal didn't get on my damned nerves, Deniro rocks! 4 stars
4/10/99 Bob Is there any way for me to get these 2 hours of my life back? 1 stars
4/10/99 Keith Calder I expected more from the man who brought us Animal House, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day. 4 stars
4/09/99 Meepos This was a good fun flick. Some iffy spots, but well worth seeing. 4 stars
4/08/99 Bob, Lord of Evil Sometimes movies only need to be fun to earn... 4 stars
4/01/99 Blubberbot I didn't hate it! 3 stars
3/31/99 The Graduate Fun flick. De Niro's a great sport to indulge in self-parody like this. 4 stars
3/28/99 Robert Deniro I'm gonna wack all the fucks that didn't give my movie 5 stars 5 stars
3/27/99 Technorama Gangsters and comedy, now's that a good blend! 4 stars
3/26/99 Film Review Definately the funniest movie in years. 4 stars
3/24/99 jvt One note and ridiculous, but not without laughs 3 stars
3/21/99 Daddy Rich Funniest movie since Rush Hour. DeNiro is very funny and a hard ass at the same time. 5 stars
3/19/99 Daria Finally, a good Billy Crystal movie... 4 stars
3/18/99 Heather You will like this movie, yes you do! 5 stars
3/18/99 S.B. Glowinski DeNiro and Crystal are just hysterical together. I laughed till I wetted myself. 5 stars
3/18/99 Scott Stipe Really Good, Crystal and Dinero have good chemistry 5 stars
3/17/99 Mr Showbiz Crystal's back in good form. He wisely underplays and makes for a great foil. 4 stars
3/16/99 Alexis Worth a look 4 stars
3/15/99 Matt worth your 7 bucks 4 stars
3/14/99 Malbert Disappointing... 4 stars
3/13/99 Cool Thing De Niro's funniest role ever, Crystal's best for a while. 5 stars
3/13/99 Sarah Smith Funny movie 4 stars
3/12/99 Jeff HOUN funny movie, crystal/deniro very entertaining 4 stars
3/12/99 Chuckeye Funny without slipping into slapstick 4 stars
3/10/99 Ah Dooey If you're bored, then this is the type of movie you oughta see. The best! 4 stars
3/08/99 Kozmic Comedy mafia movies seem to always work.Crystal had to do the straight lines he isn't funny 4 stars
3/08/99 Josée Go see it if you're depressed. It's a really good therapy! 5 stars
3/06/99 Mike Rotch DeNiro and Crystal rule this movie! 4 stars
3/01/99 Ken This movie was GREAT. Loved the scene where Billy Crystal does the Dinero impression 5 stars
2/27/99 Viral Messiah De Niro's the best! He's awesome! 4 stars
2/12/99 Kirgo1 good moments 4 stars
2/03/99 The Dude So fucking great-Oh how I love this in the mornining 5 stars
2/03/99 Lindsay One of the funniest films I've ever seen. DeNiro and Crystal are fabulous! 5 stars
1/25/99 Dark Horizons Good Will Hunting meets Goodfellas on laughing gas 4 stars
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  05-Mar-1999 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Harold Ramis

Written by
  Ken Lonergan
  Phoef Sutton

  Robert De Niro
  Billy Crystal
  Lisa Kudrow
  Kyle Sabihy
  Molly Shannon
  Max Casella

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