Thursday, March 11, 2010

An Analytical Double Feature

Analyze This (1998)
Starring: Billy Crystal, Robert De Niro, and Lisa Kudrow
Director: Harold Ramis
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Billy Crystal stars as a successful psychiatrist whose life is turned upside down (not to mention endangered) when a hardboiled mob-boss (Robert deNiro) seeks him out for treatment of depression.

This movie is fun to watch as a spoof on mob films, and the way that Crystal and DeNiro's characters both learn about themselves as a result of their assocation is also a worthwhile element of the film. However, there is just a little too much crammed into the script, so some events seem to move too fast, and some supporting characters don't get enough exposure to bring their roles fully into focus.

Analyze That (2002)
Starring: Billy Crystal, Robert De Niro, and Lisa Kudrow
Director: Harold Ramis
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Billy Crystal, Robert Deniro, and the supporting cast all reprise their roles from Analyze This in this sequel of a rare breed... it's actually funnier than the original!

The story picks up a few years after the end of "Analyze This," as Crystal's character is called upon to cure reformed mob boss Paul Vitti (DeNiro) of an apparent mental breakdown and then help ease him into normal society as a law-abiding citizen. Can a nebbish psychiatrist reform a life-long criminal?

This is less of a mob-spoof than the orignal, and more about Vitti's attempt to extracate himself from his mob life and the interplay between Crystal and Deniro's characters. The film also features some funny self-referencial bits about Hollywood "mob realism" and a nicely done "caper" crime as Vitti seemingly returns to criminal life. On the downside, "Analyze That" suffers from some of the script weaknesses as its precessor--some elements and characters are annoyingly under-developed.

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