Analyze This

Reviewed By Ryan Arthur
Posted 03/27/99 02:54:13

"If I turn fag, you die."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

After so much crap, Warner Brothers may have finally got it right.

Paul Vitti (Robert DeNiro) is a gangster, but he's got a problem. Seeing a confidante gunned down has set something off in him. He's not quaking with rage.

He's suffering from panic attacks.

Vitti tells his right hand man Jelly (a hilarious Joe Viterelli) that "a friend of his" needs a shrink. No problem, Jelly says. A shrink hit Jelly's car in an accident the night before, and Jelly just happens to have the guy's card.

Enter psychiatrist Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal).

Jelly introduces Vitti to Sobol. "You know who I am?" Vitti asks.

"Yes, I do," Sobol replies.

"No, you don't."

So begins an uneasy pseudo-treatment. Sobol at first refuses, but Vitti, continuing to suffer, follows Sobol to Florida, where Sobol's due to be married to the lovely Laura (Lisa Kudrow). Vitti's anxieties continue to get the best of him, and Sobol begins treatment, much to the disappointment of his fiancee.

What follows is a sometimes laugh-out-loud comedy, and a sometimes shake your head groaner.

I have to say I was surprised by this film. I didn't expect to like it, since I'm not really a fan of Crystal's work. But he rebounds quite nicely from Father's Day. He's stuck playing the straight man again (except for the last 30 minutes or so, when he cuts loose), but this time it works.

DeNiro shows some great comic timing. It's not a flawless performance (those crying scenes pretty much stink, Bobby...uh, Mr. DeNiro), but it's so good that you really overlook the negatives.

The film offers up a nifty dream sequence where Sobol imagines himself being gunned down like Brando in The Godfather, and Vitti is just too slow to save him. Vitti is unimpressed. "I was
Fredo? I don't think so." Great lines and funny situations, especially the film's final reel, where Sobol has to cover for Vitti at a mob meeting. Hilarious stuff.

Overall, I was surprised by Analyze This. Strong performances from the two leads, and Joe Viterelli steals the show as Jelly. Chazz Palminteri (as a rival gangster) is kind of bleh, and Kudrow is pretty one-note, but on the whole, it's a decent watch.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.