Rarely does a person come to the height of fame for a variety of reasons. With Harold Ramis, there is a man that is extremely successful in comic writing, directing and acting.
In Analyze-This, Ramis may not act but his other strong points clearly show through. Analyze This is a about a mob boss (Robert De Niro) that seeks help for his panic attacks with a psychiatrist (Billy Crystal). What ensues is bound to become an enduring classic of comedy.
Paul Vitti (De Niro) is a mobster with a problem. He can’t help being overwhelmed by his emotions. He cries during sentimental commercials, he has panic attacks that make him think he is dying from a heart condition. He is unable to function as the head of his criminal family.
While one of his henchmen, Jelly (Joe Viterelli) is out trying to drive a new victim to his doom (in the car trunk of course), he is rear ended by psychiatrist Ben Sobel (Crystal).
Sobel offers to settle with insurance but Jelly just wants to get away from the scene. Soble gives his card to the thick-necked heavy and leaves. Sobel has enough problems of his own.
He lives in the shadow of his famous psychiatrist father (Bill Macy), he is about to get married to a Miami TV news woman (Liza Kudrow) and he is rapidly becoming bored with his family practice. Soon, Jelly is back to introduce Sobel to his boss, Vitti.
Vitti wants immediate help from the shrink. Unwillingly, Sobel finally agrees to help. What follows is a fun house ride of ever growing complexity.
First, Vitti ruins the wedding when a rival gang try’s to kill him and the hood is dropped seven floors down near the wedding.
The rival gang, headed by veteran gangster movie actor, Chazz Palminteri, now wants both Vitti and Sobel dead. The FBI finds out about the treatment and blackmails Sobel in an effort to get him to up them out. Vitti’s own Mafia family now wants Sobel dead.
All in all, not the wedding week Sobel had planed!!
The acting in Analyze This is incredible. A bit underplayed at times, played to the hilt at others. The performances are a bit more mature than the typical early Crystal movies but very reminiscent of movies like City Slickers.
When you think comedy you probably do not readily think of De Niro. Man, is this a mistake. De Niro has a sense of comic timing that is rivaled by few. The very fact that he is more closely associated with serious mob type roles lends to the credibility he manifests in this character.
Most of us have seen him in The Godfather II, GoodFellas, and the Untouchables and will always associate him as an actor that plays a mobster the way he should be played, tough, and violent and with class. Here, De Niro runs the gamut of emotions from fear inducing rage to a crying mess, often within the same scene. The range and control this actor has in incredible.
Crystal is brilliant once again showing that comedy can be intelligent and zany all at the same time. Crystal is the master of getting a laugh with only a look, a talent used several times in Analyze This. His scenes with De Niro are priceless.
What can be said about Harold Ramis? The man is a genius. He shoots Analyze This almost as if it was a straight tale of the mob but allows the laughs to come naturally rather than trying to force them on the audience. Ramis has for a long time been one of the top comedy directors and writers around.
His Ghostbusters is, perhaps, one of the funny movies around because of the talents of this man. His directing efforts include Caddyshack and National Lampoon’s Vacation, a testament to how comedy should be directed.
The Analyze This DVD is one of the best I’ve seen in recent months.
There are commentaries from Crystal and De Niro on one track and Ramis on another. Crystal and De Niro show the same chemistry on the commentary they exhibited during Analyze This. It is also great to get some insights as to how Crystal performs these roles so well and how De Niro approached doing comedy after all the serious roles he brought to life. As usual, the commentary by Ramis is a tribute to other.
Like the commentary on Ghostbusters, Ramis is quick to credit others for improvisational bits, ideas, casting and most other aspects of his film. He is not the type of director that has an overblown ego and pedestal image of himself.
Ramis comes across in the commentary as a very well rounded person, funny in his own right but appreciative for the talents of others working on the film. It’s rare that credit is given where it is due in a commentary but Ramis is quick to do so.
The sound is 5.1 but the sub woofer and rear speakers are used mostly for ambient sounds.
The picture transfer is excellent. There is also a five-minute blooper reel that is worth a watch.
Get Analyze This if you don’t want to sleep with the fishes.
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