Analyze These

"Analyze This" and "Analyze That" on Blu-ray

The Don of a New Age?

Warner's "Analyze This" is a wonderful yuk-fest powered by terrific performances from a heavyweight cast. And it comes as part of a two-movie, one disc set that's a double feature of the "Analyze These" movies.

Robert De Niro stars as a Mafia don so bent out of shape by anxiety attacks and deepseated angst he's forced to seek out therapy from a shrink (Billy Crystal) with whom one of his henchmen has had a traffic run-in.

The laughs develop naturally from the collision of the underworld with the "real world" and how De Niro virtually takes over Crystal's life, pushing all his other concerns out of the way.

De Niro - one of today's best actors - plays it straight for the most part and this is one of the main reasons the film works so well. None of the characters mug, though it would have been easy to do so. The supporting cast, led by Lisa Kudrow, Joseph Viterelli, and Chazz Palminteri, is professional and believable - and it's nice to see Kudrow playing something other than a bimbo.

Instead of going for an obvious caricature of what is, in reality, an obvious caricature, director Harold Ramis uses Coppola's "Godfather" as his inspiration (right down to its production design) and lets the script do the mugging for him.

The result is a sitcom that, regardless of how bizarre, unbelievable, or hackneyed its situations, works extremely well.

The Blu-ray is presented in widescreen and 1080p. Picture and sound quality are very good, though the second "Analyze" is much better. Audio is Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and it's very dynamic, using all the channels well and positively assaulting your ears appropriately when the gunfire breaks out.

Analyze This, from Warner Home Entertainment
104 minutes, 1080p (1.85:1), Dolby TrueHD
Starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal, with Lisa Kudrow
Produced by Paula Weinstein, Jane Rosenthal, Story by Kenneth Lonergan and Peter Tolan, Screenplay by Peter Tolan and Harold Ramis and Kenneth Lonergan
Directed by Harold Ramis

Analyze That

In a time when Hollywood seems to be relying on sequels more than ever, it’s pretty much a sure thing that any movie that makes more than it cost will spawn one or two follow-ups.

But studio executives don’t always do enough research into their hits to discover just what it was that made it a hit. Analyze This, released in early 1999, had something on its side that most execs don’t usually count on: timing. There weren’t a lot of other good movies released around it, so people flocked to see the best of the bunch.

When it made over $100 million at the domestic box office alone, it was no surprise that a sequel was green-lit. But they made an inferior movie and released it in a crowded marketplace (in early December), and it made just over $30 million – hardly what most people would consider a hit.

This time around, Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) is serving his time in jail. One night there is an assassination attempt on the mob boss, so he does what any mafia mogul would do: he starts singing songs from West Side Story. This draws the attention of the feds, who think he may have gone a little crazy. They release him into the custody of his shrink, Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), much to the chagrin of both, and Sobel is once again thrust into the world of organized crime as Vitti tries to find out who wants to kill him.

Analyze This was (and still is) a very funny movie. It was the film that put De Niro on the map for comedy and revived Crystal’s career. Analyze That does feature some very funny moments, but can’t equal the laughs generated by the first (possibly due to the lack of originality; the same problem many sequels face). As always, De Niro is wonderful, and his self-deprecating approach is welcome. Crystal has the same whiny, nasal voice as always, but it works very well for this particular character.

The movie doesn’t break any new ground, and surely isn’t as funny as the original, but it’s good for a few laughs. In fact, it’s probably one of the better comedy sequels in several years, so it’s too bad it was such a flop. If you enjoyed the original, you’ll probably find humor in the sequel.

The Blu-ray looks and sounds great, though. The picture's razor sharp, with good depth, and the audio surrounds you nicely when the going gets loud.

As with the first movie, there are no extras. That's okay; this double feature is a pretty good value as it sits.

Accessing either movie is accomplished right from the main menus: none of that silly flipper disc stuff here.

Analyze That, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
96 minutes 1080p widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Starring Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow, Joe Viterelli
Produced by Paula Weinstein, Jane Rosenthal
Written by Peter Steinfeld and Harold Ramis and Peter Tolan
Directed by Harold Ramis

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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