Analyze This could have been a terrifically horrible movie. It also could have been really really funny. It was definitely neither, with a slant toward better than I thought it would be. Robert DeNiro plays (get this kids!) a mobster. The catch is, for once, something is making him anxious about the mob life. This is the comedy part. Billy Crystal is (get this kids!) a mildly neurotic smart guy who this time is a therapist. Enter the anxious mobster, add in the surprisingly aged Lisa Kudrow as the wildly miscast fiancee of Crystal, and you have mild wackiness. Did I mention that whoever thought Kudrow and Crystal would make a cute, believable, or even funny couple were probably the same geniuses who cast John Laroquette and Kirstie Alley in Houseguest. Brrrrrr!
I’ll tell you now, some of the best jokes are in the preview. Some others are there, but they don’t make the movie sing. It is amusing, though. This review probably seems to be contradicting itself quite a bit, and I gotta tell you, it’s because the movie does as well. At once it is a hair’s-breadth away from being really funny, but then also it can be pretty blatantly obvious. When the mobsters are doing that vicious stuff they are famous for, however, the violence and scary gangster stuff doesn’t hold back. I felt that some of the “bad guy” action was pretty heavy for a tinkly light comedy. My viewing companions liked it more than I did, but perhaps I just wasn’t ready to accept DeNiro in a comedy, even as a self-parody. I always tend to enjoy actors who can make fun of themselves, but DeNiro seems a little unwilling still. The real gems of the movie were the supporting cast. Mostly mobsters from a hundred mob movies, they seem to actually be having fun mocking the genre. This movie is not a parody of the mob genre – and maybe it could have been instead of basically a parody of the What About Bob? genre. Now it’s basically What About Guido?.
Without really giving anything away, I have to say that one scene where DeNiro breaks down and cries is the least believable scene in the movie (and there are plenty to choose from). Mr. Method, Mr. Be The Character, sobbing, well, it *seemed* funny. And not in the right way. Instead it actually feels forced and faked – and everything else DeNiro brings to Analyze This feels really genuine. Billy Crystal’s whiny, poorly boundaried psychiatrist seems pretty low on resources and definitely is low on the qualities I would look for in a shrink – it’s a wonder he can have that incredible house in the woods, what with his low-rent clients and his shoddy caretaking skills. Plenty goes unexplained in the movie as well, but overall it is mildly entertaining and perfect for a rainy day in. I did laugh out loud at a few moments, but it says a lot that I cannot recall a single one.
A word of praise for Chazz Palminteri, who captured my heart as a dumb mobster in Oscar, and is not given the space to be as funny here but still gives me that blank, blinking palooka that I know had to have lost some mileage on the cutting room floor. If you are tired of the usual DeNiro schtick, it actually is kind of entertaining to see him good-naturedly making fun of basically most of his career-making roles.
MPAA Rating R -language, a scene of sexuality &some violence
Release date 9/8/99
Time in minutes 106
Director Harold Ramis
Studio Warner Brothers