The Don of a New
by Jim Bray
This" is a wonderful yuk-fest powered by terrific performances from
a heavyweight cast.
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 his part very 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
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
The result is a hilarious
sitcom that, regardless of how bizarre, unbelievable, or hackneyed its
situations, works extremely well.
The Dolby Digital
DVD is presented in widescreen and pan/scan versions on opposite sides
of the disc. Picture and sound quality are excellent.
Warner Brothers has
also thrown in a bunch of extras, including two audio commentary tracks,
one featuring director Harold Ramis and the other with stars Crystal and
De Niro. These commentaries are usually worth a listen, and the pair one
on this disc is no exception - especially since you get to hear De Niro's
concerns about being in such a light film. Unfortunately, the Ramis commentary
wouldn't play on our DVD-ROM-equipped PC, though it worked fine on our
home theater player. It's an interesting insight into Ramis and his attention
to detail, but I expected more laughs from an ex-SCTV guy like him. Still,
it's interesting enough learning things like how much corn the production
destroyed on an upstate New York farm...
There's also a "gag
reel" set of outtakes featuring various cast members breaking up
and ruining their takes, the theatrical trailer, and cast/crew info. Liner
notes are limited to the back of the package.
Analyze This, from
Warner Home Video
104 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1) enhanced for widescreen TV's/Pan and
scan, Dolby Digital Surround
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
Directed by Harold Ramis
Though the basic theme
of "Analyze This" - an outsider in a Mafia world - is also the
backbone of Warners' "Mickey Blue Eyes", they're actually very
stars Hugh Grant as Michael Felgate, an unassuming Brit who runs an upper
crust auction house in New York City. He loves Gina (Jeanne Tripplehorn),
a teacher he's been dating for three months, and wants her to marry him.
What he hasn't counted on is that Gina's father Frank (James Caan) is
a mid-level Mafia member beholden to his Don (Burt Young).
It's another "fish
out of water" story as Grant is increasingly swallowed up into the
world of the mob - always against his will and over his vociferous protests.
It works, too. The
way the Mafia insinuates its way into Grant's life is carried off well
and despite the ludicrousness of the situation it never gets unbelievable
no matter how out of hand things get.
Over the course of
the film, Grant goes from mild mannered Milquetoast to "Mickey Blue
Eyes," hunted murder suspect in the gunning down of the Don's beloved
There are a few dark
moments, when the thugs are at their most menacing and when it looks as
if Hugh had better not take his life for Granted, but in the end love
conquers all and Grant, Tripplehorn and Caan walk confidently (and figuratively)
into the sunset together.
Eyes" is full of good laughs, right from the opening scene in which
auctioneer Grant shows his British charm from behind the gavel. The three
leads all perform very well and are believable and likeable at the same
time. The supporting cast of mobsters is alternately charming, funny,
and menacing depending upon the action.
The only unbelievable
character is Grant's boss, played by James Fox, who goes from being stiff
upper lip Brit to bumbling drunk - and who waves off a case of outrageously
severe insubordination/disrespect by Grant that would be more likely to
cause a dismissal and/or lawsuit in the real world.
Of course, this isn't
the real world...
There's also a terrific
collection of musical standards on the soundtrack.
The DVD is offered
in widescreen and Pan&Scan versions, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio,
and the quality of picture and sound is top notch. The disc also features
a full length audio commentary by director Kelly Makin; there are also
production notes and cast info, as well as the usual trailer and chapter
stops. Liner notes are limited to the box blurb.
Mickey Blue Eyes,
from Warner Home Video
102 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1) enhanced for widescreen TV's/Pan&Scan,
Dolby Digital Surround
Starring Hugh Grant, Jeanne Tripplehorn, James Caan
Produced by Elizabeth Hurley and Charles Mulvehill, Written by Adam Scheinman
and Robert Kuhn
Directed by Kelly Makin
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