March 7, 1999 -- Billy Crystal, who last year made one of the worst movies of the year "My Giant," has bounced back this year to make one of the best, "Analyze This."
Crystal, who plays Ben Sobel, a successful analyst laboring in the shadow of his father's fame, is introduced to Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) and very reluctantly agrees to treat him for personality disorders resulting from on-the-job stress. The stress includes being shot at by henchmen of a competing mob boss, Primo Sindone (Chazz Palminteri of "Bullets Over Broadway").
Vitti's problems include the inability to shoot people when he needs to and breaking down and crying when he sees certain TV commercials. This mystifies his henchmen, including longtime pal Jelly (Joe Viterelli). Sobel's continuing relationship also mystifies his fiancé, Laura MacNamara (Lisa Kudrow of "The Opposite of Sex," doing a great Terri Garr imitation).
The first reel of this movie has some of the best comic timing and the sharpest comedy dialogue I have seen and heard in a long time, comparable to "Shakespeare in Love." Kudos to Harold Ramis ("Ghostbusters"), Peter Tolan and Ken Lonergan for a great script. Ramis also directed the film. De Niro and Crystal carry much of the film and they are very effective, as is supporting actor Joe Viterelli. The movie wears a little thin towards the end. You can only pull a gun on a psychiatrist and tell him to analyze someone or else so many times before it stops being funny. Nevertheless, this is a very funny and well-made movie. It rates a B+.
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