I’ll be perfectly honest, I didn’t really pay much attention to this movie. The mafia has never really interested me. I actually find it odd that so many people of Italian ancestry romanticize the mob. It’s similar to people idolizing criminals like Ned Kelly or Bonnie and Clyde. People do realize that these are not altruistic do-gooders, right? They literally killed and/or robbed innocent people, many of whom reside in their local communities.
Besides the mob-centric plot, there wasn’t much else for me here. I like Billy Crystal, but he’s not my favorite comedic actor (hello Steve Martin!). I don’t have much of a relationship with Robert DeNiro outside of Meet the Parents, which he was great in. Both men were funny here, but nothing to rave about. Lisa Kudrow is also great. This movie really reminded me why she was the best actor on Friends.
I guess this movie is “revolutionary” in the sense that it takes a genre that has been done to death and flips it on its head. Mob dramas are a dime a dozen, so placing the same stereotypical characters in a comedy is interesting at times. There were some genuinely funny scenes and exchanges, but again, nothing to write home about.
The first thing I want to mention about this movie is without it, we wouldn’t have The Sopranos. This film’s premise of a mob boss who starts needing therapy was an inspiration for the classic HBO television show. You could say that in some weird six degrees of Kevin Bacon way that if Analyze This didn’t exist, we may not have the brilliant tv shows we currently have. The Sopranos opened the door for television to be considered more than a breeding ground for movie stars. After it, established film stars started flocking to do tv shows, creating such brilliant shows as Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. For that reason alone, Analyze This is a marvel of a movie and is worth seeing.
The other important thing to point out about Analyze This is that it showed Robert DeNiro could be funny. Before this film, he was known as one of the best dramatic actors of all time, but he was revelation in this comedic role. Even if he is mostly lampooning several of his previous gangster roles in films like The Godfather and Goodfellas, there’s no denying that DeNiro has great comedic timing and is never overshadowed by Billy Crystal, who was the far more experienced comedic actor when this film was released.
DeNiro stars as Paul Viti, a mob boss in New York. After a hit is attempted on his life and he starts suffering from anxiety and having panic attacks, he arranges to get therapy from Billy Crystal’s character, world renowned psychiatrist Ben Sobel. DeNiro forces Dr Sobel to see him, despite the fact he is a dangerous underworld figure. Sobel reluctantly agrees to take him on temporarily. Problems arise when Sobel is asked by the FBI to be an informant, he refuses due to patient client privileges that exist between Sobel and his gangster client. When Viti gets wind his new doctor may have been cooperating with the Feds, he must take care of this problem like only he knows how, by whacking him. Crystal will need all his powers of persuasion he’s learnt as a psychiatrist to convince Viti he can be trusted.
This film is very funny. Billy Crystal is great, as usual, but it’s the comedy stylings of Robert DeNiro that are a revelation here. He’s great as the mob boss that can’t handle the dangers of the New York underworld anymore. This film is well worth checking out, if only for Crystal and DeNiro. Their chemistry is great together. Lisa Kudrow is also very funny as Billy Crystal’s wife to be.
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