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ANALYZE THIS (1999) The Review
Ben Sobol, M.D. is a family therapist, with a mundane practice, and about to be married for the second time. His professional practice suddenly becomes a high adventure, and his family problems seem small after a powerful member of another kind of New York family, Mob Boss Paul Vitti puts him on 24 hour call to help him with his panic attacks.
The cast includes: Robert DeNiro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow, Kresimir Novakovic, Bart Tangredi, Michael Straka, Joseph Rigano, Joe Viterelli, Richard Castellano, Molly Shannon, Max Casella, Frank Pietrangolare, Kyle Sabihy, and Bill Macy.
Directed by Harold Ramis. The screenplay was written by Peter Tolan, Harold Ramis, and Kenneth Lonergan, based on story by Peter Tolan and Kenneth Lonergan.
Promotional Line: "New York's most powerful gangster
The film opens with the story of Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro), who is a tough Mafia Family Boss, a gangster who is used to being in control. The film begins showing the 1957 attempted meeting of the Mob Bosses, being narrated by an unseen person, who had second had knowledge of this event. The voice recalls what happened when the Bosses tried to meet at a mobster's country farm. "The Feds moved in, the Bosses moved out." A sequence of scenes show the Federal agents knocking down the door, and heavyset gangsters rolling out of the windows, etc. and trying to run away.
Then, we are shown that the voice of the narrator is Paul Vitti (Robert DeNiro), a powerful New York Mob Boss who is having a business lunch with a close, family friend, Dominic. Dominic, who was a close friend of Paul's father, Anthony Vitti (Vinny Villa), is telling him of the upcoming meeting of all the bosses, imploring Vitti to attend this big meeting with him. While Vitti doesn't think it is a good idea at all, he reluctantly agrees to go with Dominic. As they get up to leave, Vitti goes back for a toothpick, while Dominic is gunned down outside of the restaurant. Soon after this violent incident, Vitti finds himself unable to shoot anyone, is uncontrollably emotional, and isn't able to get his breath, suffering panic attacks. Paul Vitti must conquer his panic attacks in just two weeks, if he is to be at his best for this big meeting of the bosses, where he may be picked to head the whole organization.
The story switches to the life of a rational, thoughtful, kind Dr. Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal), a psychiatrist who has a family therapy practice, with patients who don't challenge his abilities, and has some typical family problems of his own. Sobol has an easygoing teen son, Michael (Kyle Sabihy), who lives with him, with some annoying habits. Michael likes to listen in on his father's office sessions with patients from a vent in his room. The son also has a habit of repeating what his mom (Sobol's ex-wife) has to say about his father, Dr. Ben Sobol.
The biggest event in Ben Sobol's life will be his upcoming second wedding to a beautiful woman, Laura MacNamara (Lisa Kudrow) in Florida, which his parents chose not to attend because his father, Isaac Sobol, M.D.(Bill Macy), a very successful psychiatrist, has three book signings that week end. One senses the friction between father and son, as the younger Sobol has "competitive issues" with his very prominent father, who loves to be the center of attention.
However, little does Dr. Ben Sobol know that these problems/ marriage event are about to play second fiddle when he accidentally bumps into a sedan owned by Paul Vitti, being driven by his main body guard, henchman Jelly (Joe Viterelli). The trunk pops open and a man who is tied up can be seen in the open trunk. Dr. Sobol doesn't see the man because he is talking to his son. Jelly pops out and quickly shuts the trunk lid. After a humorous interchange, Dr. Sobol insists on giving Jelly his professional card so Jelly can contact him if he changes his mind about getting the damages to the car fixed.
Well, in the middle of a session with a patient, guess who shows up? Jelly (Joe Viterelli) barges in and politely announces that Paul Vitti wants to see him now. After a humorous interchange between the three of them; Jelly, the patient and Dr. Sobol, and over Dr. Sobol's objections, Paul Vitti walks in to Dr. Sobol's office for his first therapy session.
The stress in Dr. Sobol's life has just been escalated, and he is in for a wild, life-threatening, new wife-annoying ride that makes his own troubles seem minor, even taking precedence over his own wedding. He finds out by experience, the following truths. When you are hired by Paul Vitti, not only are you on 24 hour call, you must deal with Vitti's affable, but insistent Jelly (Joe Viterelli), and bullying F.B.I agents as well, who are determined to trap Vitti through you. Most importantly, you are in danger of being killed with Vitti by either his murderous rival, Boss Primo Sidone (Chazz Palminteri), or being killed by the unpredictable Paul Vitti himself, a powerful guy with rough manners and no social etiquette who will kill you if he thinks the F.B.I. is using you.
You also can't take Paul Vitti places like family events where you are meeting your in-laws for the first time! A favorite sequence of scenes starts with Dr. Ben, his son and his lovely fiancee, Laura meet with her parents in a swanky, Florida restaurant in their hotel. As Laura's father, "Captain" Scott MacNamara, her mother, Dr. Ben Sobol and his son, Michael make their way to their table, who should come walking into this same restaurant but Paul Vitti and his family! The look on Crystal's face is priceless. This leads to some humorous squirmy moments and humorous consequences.
Dr. Sobol chooses to ignore the F.B.I. threats and all the danger he is in and focus on his patient, Paul Vitti when it dawns on him what has caused Vitti's panic attacks. His dedication to his work sees him through the threat of a barrel of a gun to get to the truth to help his patient, which in turn strengthens him as a family therapist and gives him a new outlook on life.
In fact, Dr. Sobol finds himself going above and beyond the call of duty for his patient, when he is drafted again by Jelly during his second attempted wedding ceremony, to be a temporary stand-in at the Mob Meeting, which is a hilarious, sequence of scenes, a high point in the movie. Sensitive, caring Dr. Sobol has to change into a tough -talking, swaggering, loudmouth representative who can't help analyzing the murderous nemesis of Paul Vitti, the verbally abusive Boss Primo Sidone (Chazz Palminteri), a real charmer, in Sobol's verbal confrontation with Boss Primo at the meeting.
Having Paul Vitti as a patient does have its pluses, such as receiving unusual gifts of appreciation, great job satisfaction, a new confidence in one's abilities and a revised attitude about life and its problems.
This hilarious story and screenplay parodying Mafia movies, such as "The Godfather," was written by Peter Tolan and Kenneth Lonergan and directed by the multi-talented, funny man, Harold Ramis, who also helped to write this screenplay. Besides being a talented writer and actor, Ramis directed such films as: "Caddyshack," "Vacation," and "Groundhog Day."
The wonderful cast gives sparkling, entertaining performances, and play off each other with perfect comedic timing and perfect reactions. There are many hilarious moments between the main characters.
Robert DeNiro has a lot of fun playing Don Paul Vitti, a powerful Mafia Boss in need of counseling. DeNiro is a talented actor that can succeed in satirical, comical portrayals, as well as dramatic ones.
Billy Crystal was wonderful as Dr. Ben Sobol, a dedicated family therapist with a sense of humor, and gifted with guts and determination as well.
DeNiro and Crystal together create the humorous magic that brings the script to life. They explore together and give a brilliant rendition of what it must be like in therapy sessions, between a powerful, yet distressed gangster and a therapist like Dr. Ben Sobol.
Joe Viterelli gives an inspiring performance as the polite, rather round, jovial, yet menacing "Jelly," Vitti's main henchman, who is a dedicated employee who always gets whatever job assigned done, without raising his voice. He knows that he isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and acts accordingly to his abilities, sticking to things he does very well; protecting Paul Vitti and getting Dr. Ben Sobol to come when he is needed, using a variety of methods of persuasion!
A favorite scene of mine happens at Dr. Ben Sobol's second attempt to get married to Laura, this time at the Waldorf in New York City. As the Rabbi is saying the vows for Dr. Ben Sobol to repeat, Sobol hears a loud "Psst! Doc!" behind him. Sobol looks and sees Jelly crouching behind a big potted plant, who pops his head out, beckoning urgently to him. Hilarity reigns. Dr. Ben Sobol is needed once again - it is an emergency!!
Chazz Palminteri excels in his portrayal of the infamous, cold-blooded Boss Primo Sidone, a powerful murderous opponent of Vitti's who has no socially redeeming qualities and tries to bump Paul Vitti off three times before the "Big Meeting." One of these attempts ruins Dr. Ben Sobol's first wedding attempt in Florida in a unique way, that upsets the bride so much that they reschedule their wedding for the following week in New York.
Rated R- This is an adult comedy. The language has lots of potty words, a liberal dose of the "F" word, one sexual scene and some violence. Trust me, you don't want your children talking like this. Sensitive adults may be offended as well.