Robert DeNiro has built a tremendous career out of portraying men who are to be feared. Starting with Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II through Good Fellas, DeNiro has established himself as the Hollywood Don. Analyze This is a brilliant comedy that cashes in on that long body of work. There’s no setup required for us to accept DeNiro as the head of a crime family. What makes the film work on an even higher level is the addition of Billy Crystal and the fact that both powerful actors play against what you would expect. Long-time funny man Crystal plays the straight man to DeNiro’s hilariously stressed don. This is one hell of a funny movie.
Paul Vitti (DeNiro) finds himself in the middle of a turf war. He heads an important New York crime family and there have been serious moves against him. The stress has gotten to him to the point that he seeks out psychiatrist Ben Sobel (Crystal) for help. Sobel reluctantly begins to treat the Don, which ends up disrupting his wedding, having him targeted by feds, almost killed, and ultimately filling in for Vitti at a mob negotiation table.
Analyze This is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is quite an aggressive surround mix for this type of film… rivaling many of the more big budget action or sci-fi films. Dialogue always has a strong presence and is never muddled. There’s tons of ambient music featuring some well integrated jazz and let’s not forget Tony Bennett, who makes a great cameo in the film.
There are 2 commentary tracks included on the DVD. The primary track is with Harold Ramis. He is extremely talkative and you will be treated to a very detailed history of all aspects of the film. There is another track with Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro. This is DeNiro’s first ever DVD audio commentary. He usually refuses to do them and now I understand why. Although he has wonderful insight it’s obvious throughout that he just isn’t comfortable. Hard to believe such an aggressive actor is in reality so shy. Crystal is the opposite. He fills in the gaps left by DeNiro with a dizzying contrast. They share some very funny stories.
Analyze This is a double-sided DVD. There is a pan and scan version on one side and a widescreen edition on the other. Of course, I found the widescreen version far superior. One of the joys of this film is watching the expressions of some of the supporting cast, in particularly the wonderful Joe Viterelli. You miss most of that on the pan and scan. The transfer is about as clean as they make them. No noticeable print flaws or artifacts. The colors are pretty much reference quality. Flesh tones are quite impressive which is important with all of the DeNiro close-ups. Darks are rich in detail and contrast nicely with the brighter aspects of the film.
Other then the pre-mentioned audio commentaries, there aren’t a lot of extras here but what is there is pretty good. The gag reel is as funny as the film itself. There is a trailer, and the typical bios.
If you’re a fan of the HBO series The Sopranos, you can’t help but notice similarities between Tony and Paul Vitti. I always like it when actors feel comfortable enough to poke fun at their own roles. DeNiro does so here with style. With the exception of Friends alum Kudrow, the supporting cast is also worth mentioning. She’s just too ditsy here, but Macy, Viterelli, and Chazz Palminterri all play their roles perfectly. I could tell you more but: “I can’t tell you and you don’t wanna know”.