news Sports Opinions arts variety interact Wildcat On-Line QuickNav

Analyzing 'Analyze This'

By rebecca missel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 4, 1999
Send comments to:


Arizona Daily Wildcat

photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Robert DeNiro thinks Billy Crystal's pretty darn cute in "Analyze This."

The Mafia movie has been around since Congress ratified the 18th Amendment (it was prohibition, you Poli Sci flunky), providing audiences with a glimpse of life's underbelly and a good lesson in Italian accents. Usually, these have the feel of a dark and poignant epic a la "The Godfather." However, occasionally, a farcical gem slips by to grace the silver screen, such as the delightful "Oscar," featuring a '30s-era Sylvester Stallone.

"Analyze This" makes its distinction in the gangster flick genre by comedically showing the potential psychological side effects of growing up in the mob. Robert DeNiro stars as Paul Vitti, a powerful gangster with a Brooklyn accent so thick you could cut it with a pizza-slicer. Vitti's whole life has been influenced by the mob, and he now must take his place as the leader of his crime family. But there's a problem: he keeps having these panic attacks, and if word gets out, his reputation is ruined.

In an uncanny twist of fate, Dr. Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal) rear-ends a car driven by Vitti's rotund and aptly-named bodyguard, Jelly. Sobol, like any mob-fearing man, gives Jelly his card, and promises to take complete responsibility. Thus, when Jelly and Paul Vitti show up in Sobol's psychiatry office the next day, the good doctor is more than a little surprised. His shock turns to fear when Vitti demands full and immediate attention from the therapist and starts their unusual relationship.

When the mob code complicates the Hippocratic oath, zany hijinks ensue. The feds find out Sobol is connected to Vitti; Sobol's wedding to the lovely Lisa Kudrow is virtually ruined; and a rival gangster, ruthlessly portrayed by Chazz Palminteri, threatens to usurp Vitti.

Even though "Analyze This" does not give Crystal and DeNiro a chance to show off their acting prowess, this movie is still damn funny. Sobol recommends drugs to Vitti when he laments his sagging libido. He refuses the treatment, commenting, "A hard-on should be gotten legitimately or not gotten at all."

Screenwriter/director Harold Ramis also directed the classic "Caddyshack" and the even more memorable "National Lampoon's Vacation," but you might remember him best as Dr. Egon Spengler from "Ghostbusters." While the plot almost crosses the line of predictability, the absolutely hilarious writing will keep even those with acute ADD sharply tuned-in.