Analyze This

Stars:  Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow

Robert De Niro packs a very good comedic punch opposite Billy Crystal in this wacky film about a dysfunctional mob boss and his psychiatrist.

You may not identify De Niro with comedy but his quick talking makes for great timing and you can’t get much better than playing opposite Billy Crystal who, in fact, executive produced the film.

After a hit takes out his friend and colleague, Paul Vitti (De Niro) begins to suffer panic attacks so severe that he can hardly function in his chosen field of mob boss for a major New York family. The timing couldn’t be worse because in two weeks, there’s to be a meeting of the heads of every major crime family in the country. But in the meantime, an opposing boss named Primo (Chazz Palminteri) is trying to do in Vitti which makes the poor guy an even bigger basket case.

Psychiatrist Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal) has a chance encounter with some of Vitti’s associates and before you know it, Sobel is ordered to attend to the mentally ailing Vitti. Sobel is terrified at the prospect of having to treat a well known mobster, particularly one so hostile and demanding as De Niro’s Vitti. It isn’t until Vitti breaks down crying that Sobel agrees to treat him.

Although I wouldn’t want Sobel as my doctor, with his blabbing to everyone that he’s playing doctor to a crime boss – and he names names – Crystal’s Sobel plays the tormented soul very well. All Sobel wants to do is get married to his financee Laura (Lisa Kudrow), but he’s followed and harassed by Vitti and his associates who decide the doctor should be on 24-hour call.

One mishap after another; one interruption too many; threats from mobsters, threats from the FBI.. poor Sobel doesn’t know which way to turn. All the while, he’s trying to get his patient to “open up”, little realizing that any more opening up on Vitti’s part will get Sobel some cement overshoes.

This is a very funny film with crisp dialogue, good characters ad a very cute plotline. After watching “The Sopranos” on TV with a similar theme, I wonder how many mobsters really do see psychiatrists and if so, how many psychiatrists live to not tell about it.

Lotta says: “Analyze This” is terrific fun.