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Analyze This

"Analyze This" and "Mickey Blue Eyes" on DVD

The Don of a New Age?

by Jim Bray

Warner's "Analyze 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 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 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 Lonergan
Directed by Harold Ramis

Mickey Blue Eyes

Mickey Blue Eyes

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 different movies.

"Blue Eyes" 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 son.

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.

"Mickey Blue 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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Updated May 13, 2006