Analyze This

Billy Crystal, Robert De Niro, Lisa Kudrow, Dave Corey, Molly Shannon

Directed by Harold Ramis
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
March 5, 1999

Putting a mobster on a shrink's couch isn't exactly a concept with the dew still on it. Alan Arkin counseled hit man John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank, and therapist Lorraine Bracco meets with made man James Gandolfini on HBO's The Sopranos. But Analyze This, a bracing blend of sass and crass from director and co-writer Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day), really nails it. No wonder — Billy Crystal's Ben Sobol, a Manhattan psychiatrist with his own share of neuroses, is treating the godfather himself.

It's a treat to watch Robert De Niro — the goodfella supreme — tweak every gangster role he's ever played as Paul Vitti, a hood in crisis. Paul is not accustomed to shrinks, but rising to the head of his crime family is making him anxious. He's losing sleep and thinking of his dead father.

It seems like fate when Dr. Ben rear-ends the car of Paul's bodyguard, Jelly (the priceless Joseph Viterelli). A favor is called in and Ben, a divorced father accustomed to treating bored housewives who need to get in touch with their "inner uniqueness," finds himself with a notorious killer on his couch. Paul, afraid of letting out his non-macho feelings, issues one caveat: "If I go fag, you die."

The obstacles that Ramis hits in juggling plot lines that include Ben's problems with his chubby son (Kyle Sahiby) and his nervous fiancé (Lisa Kudrow), plus Paul's feud with a mob rival (Chazz Palminteri), are easily overcome by the ace comic teamwork of De Niro and Crystal. De Niro has rarely been this loose onscreen. His role here is akin to Marlon Brando's in The Freshman — a witty Godfather sendup that never sinks to glib caricature. Watching De Niro take Paul through his first panic attack ("I'm crying like a woman") is an unalloyed joy. "You, you got a gift, a fucking gift," he tells Dr. Ben, who finds himself playing mobster when Paul's breakthrough causes him to reject violence. The film's highlight is Dr. Ben's dream that casts him as the godfather and Paul as his weak son. "Me, Fredo?" says Paul. "I don't think so." No need to analyze Analyze This; just enjoy.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »