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IN SHORT: The mobster movie has been set waaaaaaay back. It's a good thing. A really good thing. [Rated R for language, a scene of sexuality and some violence]
Long time moviegoers should recognize the following names: Robert De Niro (ace mobster). Billy Crystal (ace funnyman). Harold Ramis (ace writer of National Lampoon's Animal House; Natlamp's Vacation; both Ghostbusters flicks and Groundhog's Day. Director of Stuart Saves His Family -- so Ramis screwed up at least once -- and Multiplicity. OK, twice). You tell me which name doesn't belong on that list.
You're thinking too much. Add comedians Bill Macy (Maude) and Lisa Kudrow (Friends) to the list. Now, pick.
If you picked Robert De Niro, Cranky tells you you're wrong. Last season De Niro did a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live and, boy, did he look uncomfortable. Of course, he was playing himself and no actor is comfortable doing that. What a wonderful exercise, then, to take the generic mob character perfected in almost every good gangster movie beginning with the letter "G" and go where no made man has gone before. Screw with the stereotype. Play it straight while you add elements that would never be accepted in the Syd Field synoptic version. To paraphrase the ancient Bananarama hit . . . Robert De Niro, weeping.
Not just weeping, bawling like a baby. Tapping into the repressed emotion within all of us. Curled up like a foetus on the bed. On the surface, he's tough. Underneath, total emotional marshmallow. At all times he is incredibly funny. In Analyze This De Niro is Paul Vitti, the head of a mob family who, after an abortive assassination attempt, finds he can't split a head open with a lead pipe. He can't deliver lead slug canapes to deserving party guests. He suffers "heart attack" after "heart attack" and all of the stupid doctors tell him it's a simple case of panic. As we all know, mobsters don't panic. So Vitti's got to use tough love to teach the doctors what a heart attack is.
It's tough being the boss. It's tougher being Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal), a psychiatrist son of a famous psychiatrist father (Bill Macy). Dad's on a book tour and so can't attend his son's wedding to a Florida news reporter (Lisa Kudrow). But due to a fender bender and a run in with Vitti's right hand man, an enforcer named Jelly (Joseph Viterelli), Ben's business card falls into the hands of the mobster.
Vitti has two weeks to determine who is trying to kill him prior to a convocation of the remaining mob families. Rival Primo (Chazz Palminteri) has the better tailor and most incentive to order the rubout, but someone inside Vitti's organization is a traitor. He demands full time attention to deal with his "heart attacks". Obviously some heavy duty miraculous shrinkology is necessary to save the day. If that means he has to disrupt Ben's wedding a couple of times in a couple of different cities, well, that's just what he'll have to do.
Billy Crystal has found another great fish out of water part in this flick. His character has got a decent practice, talking to restless suburbanites. He's a real straight arrow who'll have to impress a table full of real life mobsters to keep his head. Almost literally.
De Niro so totally screws with the gangster stereotype that he pretty much defined, that you ears won't believe the sound of laughter that comes out of your mouth. His participation in a parody of a scene from Godfather II is topped by a line of dialog which you'll be able to tell your friends (and they'll laugh even if they haven't seen the flick. That's how funny it is).
Of the supporting cast, Cranky's got to giza nod to Joseph Viterelli, whose face you'll instantly recognize.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Analyze This, he would have paid...
Purchase of the extra large soda is not advised. You'll never hold it.
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