ANALYZE THIS intuitively diagnosed a positive audience reaction to comic stimulus in 1999, when its barrage of bada-bing jokes brought down houses to the tune of $176,866,000 large of serious green. Capisce? Then don’t ask, already. *
Mobster ‘Paul Vitti’ (Robert De Niro) has some ‘unmanly’ problems, anxiety attacks irksome enough to interfere with his day job of having people whacked, even, ‘God forbid’, causing bedroom issues: “Will you stop talkin’, I’m tryin’ to do this here!” he grouches when his girlfriend gets vocal during sex. The strain too much, he begins to see ‘Dr. Ben Sobel’ (Billy Crystal), a psychiatrist about to get married (to Lisa Kudrow) and not Brazil nuts about having to head-shrink a Mafia Don with gun trouble.
Directed by Harold Ramis, who co-wrote with Kenneth Lonergan and Peter Tolan, its deadpan laughs take off from the get-go and maintain funny bone thumps for a standard issue 103 minutes. Profanity-laced, essentially a one-joke premise, it bests formula thanks to being put across so well by the cast.
For Crystal, it was his first hit in the eight years since City Slickers; he wisely keeps it in control, not letting his character stray into mugging. He even gets to engage in a shootout, although all he accomplishes is to “…hit the ’72 Chevy and the Amana side-by-side Freezer.”
Although De Niro had done a few forays into humor, notably The King Of Comedy in ’82, Midnight Run in ’88 and the political satire Wag The Dog two years before, this was the one that launched him onto a kind of fall-back-for-gags second-life in silly comedies, which critics lamented as though he’d never do any ‘serious’ acting again. Mooks….
Kudrow is always a kick, and Chazz Palminteri nails down rival hood ‘Primo Sindone’. Almost stealing it out from under the stars is the great Joe Viterelli as ‘Jelly’.
Budget for the caper was a rotundo $80,000,000 clams. Chi ha fatto i libri su questo lavoro? With Richard C. Castellano, Bill Macy, Pat Cooper, Leo Rossi and Molly Shannon. 103 minutes.
* The end of the millennium at least got some laughs out of ’99: Election, Office Space, American Pie, Notting Hill, Pushing Tin, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Bowfinger and Galaxy Quest.
Sequel Analyze That came out three years later and didn’t fare nearly as well. It was the final film for Joe Viterelli, who died at 66 in 2004. Billy Crystal delivered the eulogy at his funeral.