If you can remember the last time you found Billy Crystal funny, you're probably casting your thoughts back at least a decade. Throughout the '90s, Crystal's name has pretty consistently been attached to dull, diluted, failed attempts at heartwarming comedy, from the grossly overrated City Slickers through the abysmal Fathers' Day, Forget Paris, My Giant, and others. While it may not immediately look to provide an exception to this pattern, Analyze This certainly does. Directed by the generally reliable Harold Ramis and co-starring Robert De Niro, Analyze This is a funny, tightly plotted, well-conceived comedy that transcends both Crystal's '90s curse and its horrible title. Crystal stars as a psychiatrist who, after bumping into a mobster's car, finds himself conscripted into providing counseling for a panic-attack-prone mob boss (De Niro), a task that repeatedly interrupts his attempts to marry pretty newslady Lisa Kudrow, who makes the most of what could be a two-dimensional part. Crystal and De Niro display surprisingly strong chemistry, and both provide their share of laughs, largely due to the fact that the film gives them fully realized characters to play. Crystal seldom falls back on his pat shtick, and while De Niro clearly has fun playing with his mob-guy image, he never slips into self-parody. The end result is a highly enjoyable film that's also one of the best mainstream comedies to surface in a long time. That puts the movie in some pretty dubious company, and runs the risk of sounding like faint praise, but with Analyze This, Ramis, De Niro, Crystal, and company prove just how badly nearly everyone else has been slacking.
More from The A.V. Club