Analyze This (*** ½) - Analyze This was like a breath of fresh air for me. In saying that, I’m referring to the films I’ve seen thus far in 1998, which until this weekend, could only recommend a mere three - and we’re just starting March. The movie has its laughs spread out early on, but then really took me over as I was laughing and laughing hard.De Niro is essentially playing an archetype of every single mobster or mob-related character he’s ever played - and he plays it straight which is terrific. Billy Crystal fans have been waiting for this film from him for about five years after a string of major disappointments from a major talent. He has a lot of fun with the role and every single moment between him and DeNiro produces at least one huge laugh. Lisa Kudrow is relegated to just a prop character, not really given much to do at all - to the point that her character could have been left out of the script. Some good build-up scenes with her family are abandoned for the third act. This isn’t the most original concept in film, though it may seem so. There are numerous similarities to another funny film, a made-for-cable film called The Don’s Analyst with Robert Loggia as the mobster and Kevin Pollak as the shrink. There are also similar themes on HBO’s The Sopranos. There’s a lot that could have been added to this material to really push the envelope on making fun of earlier mob movies - but what we’ve got here is good stuff. Funny stuff. How can you resist seeing DeNiro cry? The moment he first breaks down in the film is truly classic.This is probably more like a three-star film the more I think about all the little things that could have pushed this into the area of a true screwball classic, but in a movie year like 1999, thus far, it’s as close to a 3 ½-star film as you can get. I liked it a lot.