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De Niro Worship

[whitespace] Analyze This
Phillip Caruso

Almost Married to the Mob: Billy Crystal's betrothed (Lisa Kudrow) reacts badly to the presence of mobster Robert De Niro in their wedding plans.

In a familiar role, Robert De Niro still delivers

By Richard von Busack

TO PLAY a comic gangster, Robert De Niro turns up the volume on those mannerisms that made his name in Martin Scorsese's gangster movies. Unfortunately, the famous Bronx accent clots into a "dese-dem-dose" thickness in Analyze This, and his usual shifty reactions are startlingly oversized. Harold Ramis' film offers primarily hammy comedy. Surprisingly, it often works better than the premise might lead you to believe. In the best scene, De Niro's character is provoked to helpless tears by a heart-wringing television commercial. De Niro's weeping mobster is as funny as Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion.

Paul Vitti (De Niro) is a hard-shelled wise guy who is cracking. He's plagued by anxiety attacks and hesitating during his lethal business. This weakness is duly noted by Vitti's deadly rival Primo Sindone (Chazz Palminteri), and Vitti seeks help from an unlikely source. As Ben Sobel, Vitti's reluctant therapist, Bill Crystal plays the straight man. Crystal and De Niro's styles never find a meeting place. Crystal stays blandly untouched by the odd situation--he never shows a suppressed urge toward power that might be stimulated by the companionship of a mobster. To ground him, as if he needed it, Lisa Kudrow plays Sobel's fiancée, the abrasive Laura. It's the old, tedious gag about a woman whose upcoming wedding is more important than the moon and the stars. It cannot be spoiled; inevitably, it will be. Some way has to be found to detour around this ancient plotting; the movie goes dead every time Kudrow turns up. She is especially annoying because De Niro has a fine partner: Joe Viterelli, who is very good as Jelly, Vitti's fat, Damon Runyan-style henchman.


Analyze This (R; 106 min.), directed by Harold Ramis, written by Peter Tolan, Kenneth Lonergan and Ramis, photographed by Stuart Dryburgh and starring Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow and Chazz Palminteri.

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From the March 4-10, 1999 issue of Metro.

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