The Star Press from Muncie, Indiana on March 27, 1999 · Page 29
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The Star Press from Muncie, Indiana · Page 29

Muncie, Indiana
Issue Date:
Saturday, March 27, 1999
Page 29
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J The Advertiser Saturday, March 27, 1999 Page5A vz ihss pi n n is srtatffia rne When a movie makes you laugh - which is certainly the case with "Analyze This" - it's probably not smart to shine too V Y harsh a light on its flaws. After all, how many honest yocks can a critic or audience get these days? You see my point? Laughs are laughs. Never second guess a good time. Don't get technical. Don't over-analyze. That's what my critical psyche is telling me. Then again, why let anybody get off scot-free? This slick and rambunctious Harold Ramis comedy - with Robert De Niro as a newly elevated East Coast Mafia boss suffering from panic attacks and Billy Crystal as the hip young New Yorker who becomes his personal psychotherapist seems to have everything going for it. But there are little chinks in its comic armor, just as there are neuroses boiling around under the Cosa Nostra cool of De Niro's twitchy Paul Vitti. Here's a guy who has to send men to their graves - or fit them for cement overcoats - with the blase, dead-eyed man ner of Al Pacino saying, "It's not personal, Sonny; it's strictly business" in "The Godfather. " And instead, he shakes. He even cries. How is he going to match wits, guns and machismo with his chief rival, the very mean. and angry - and utterly immoral - Primo Sindone (Chazz '- ! michael Wilmington Palminteri), the kind of Mafia wise guy who makes other wise guys look like honest-to-god good fellas. Behind his mask, Vitti's a mess - until he hooks up with Crystal as Ben Sobel, the kind of psychiatrist who knows all the right people, reads all the right books, always has two aisle seats for the best Broadway shows and courtside seats at Knicks games. Ben lives in a different world than Vitti, although he keeps up with the coming Godfather's antics in The New York Times, New York magazine or maybe CNN. And Ben is about to make his life tingle a lot more by wedding the blue-blooded blond Laura McNamara (Lisa Kudrow), whose dad has so much money and WASP chutzpah he isn't afraid of the Mob. Unfortunately for Ben, he rear-ends the wrong car one day: the one belonging to Vitti's main bodyguard, the irrepressible, butterball, cloudy-eyed Jelly (Joe Viterelli), a killer with a likable manner. Jelly gets Ben's card and later, Vitti pays Ben a call. Eventually, Vitti begins to treat Ben as a brain mechanic on 24-hour call. This wreaks predictable havoc with Ben's engagement and marriage - especially as he goes deeper into Vitti's life and hard psyche. That's a terrific premise. And it's a terrific cast too, with almost everybody cooking and hitting their high spots: the two co-stars, Kudrow, Palminteri and the excellent Viterelli. That's a lot of horses for one movie. Tone is everything here. De Niro plays Vitti as only slightly a burlesque of his classic Mafioso roles. Indeed, if Billy Crystal weren't around smirking and double-taking, you might think De Niro was doing the whole movie straight. But there's a glint in his eye, a little extra roll behind the swagger. De Niro and Crystal get the same comic TT71 chemistry De Niro and Charles Grodin got in J lllXl "Midnight Run," and, as you watch "Analyze This," Clips ' memories of De Niro's overbroad comedy in "We're No Angels" never get rekindled. Essentially, De Niro is playing the same kind of villainous straight man that Bob Hope (or Hope and Crosby) were always running into their '40s comedies. Hope is a good yardstick here for Crystal too. Like Woody Allen, who has always copied the nervous, phony bravado of Hope's early comedies, Crystal suggests a lot of Hope's old persona. But with a difference; Crystal isn't as daring as Hope (or Allen) in exposing his own cowardice, weakness or bad qualities. He doesn't make himself as craven and immoral, and, comedically, that may be a blunder. In Tribute I ; Legendary film reviewer leaves "thumbprint on a nation of moviegoers ; Gene Siskcl changed the model for movie reviewing forever through ! his writing andjong-running televi-' sion show with Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. The nationally syndicated and Chicago Tribune , film reviewer died Feb. 20, 1999 in ,' a Chicago-area hospital at the age of 53. After undergoing brain surgery on May 11, 1998, Siskel quickly ; returned to his critic responsibili-! ties, including taping his television show "Siskel & Ebert at the Movies" from his hospital bed just . days after the surgery. At the advice of his doctors, however, he recently announced that he was taking a leave of absence from his many duties to allow himself time to recuperate at home. "Gene Siskel was a figure of national importance in the movie industry and the profession of journalism," said David D. Williams, president and CEO of Tribune Media Services. "He helped shape the way in which moviegoers look at the movies and will be greatly missed by the Chicago community and his many readers across the country." ; "Gene was a friend and a colleague, but most of all, a gentleman of the first order," said Howard Tyner, vice president and editor of the Chicago Tribune. "People , might have thought he only felt passionately about film. But his first love was his family, whom he loved as much as he hated injustice and bigotry. We appreciated his incredible loyalty to the Tribune for nearly 30 years. His television career made him a household name nationally, but his first allegiance was always to the Tribune." Siskel started his movie-reviewing career just months after he joined the Chicago Tribune in 1969 as a neighborhood news reporter and staff writer. He held the position until 1986 when he became movie columnist for the paper, writing reviews, critical essays, trend pieces and interviews. He began writing his nationally syndicated column, "Siskel's Flicks P icks," in 1986. - Siskel also served as film critic for WBBM-TV (CBS) in Chicago. In March 1990, he was appointed film critic of "CBS This Morning." He was also a columnist for TV Guide and a contributor to various magazines, including Sports Illustrated. Siskel & Ebert's television show began in 1975 on Chicago's public television station WTTW-TV. In 1986 the show was picked up for syndication by Buena Vista Television, a division of the Walt Disney Company. Siskel is survived by his wife, Marlene; two daughters and one son. Contributions can be made to the Gene Siskel Charitable Foundation, 108 W Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60610-4026. ; Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune movie review columnist, will be contributing reviews weekly for USExpress. 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