NEW YORK’S MOST POWERFUL GANGSTER IS ABOUT TO GET IN TOUCH WITH HIS FEELINGS.
After an attempt on his life, Mafia boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) experiences anxiety attacks and forces a terrified psychiatrist (Billy Crystal) to take him on as patient. The Sopranos, which also featured a gangster in therapy, was a hit at the time of this film’s release. That TV show dealt earnestly with a man’s difficulties of not only heading a crime family but also taking care of his wife and kids, but this movie was played strictly for laughs. De Niro effectively does his uncontrollably blubbering boss the same way he did in films like GoodFellas (1990); Crystal is also perfect as the shrink whose mob ties grow stronger.
1999-U.S. 103 min. Color. Produced by Paula Weinstein, Jane Rosenthal. Directed by Harold Ramis. Screenplay: Peter Tolan, Kenneth Lonergan. Cast: Robert De Niro (Paul Vitti), Billy Crystal (Ben Sobel), Lisa Kudrow (Laura MacNamara), Joe Viterelli, Chazz Palminteri, Bill Macy. Cameo: Tony Bennett.
Trivia: Martin Scorsese was allegedly considered for directing duties. Followed by Analyze That (2002).
Quote: “My name is Ben Sobel… -lioni. Ben Sobellioni. I’m also known as, uh, Benny the Groin, Sammy the Schnazz, Elmer the Fudd, Tubby the Tuba, and once as Miss Phyllis Levine.” (Crystal impersonating a gangster)
Last word: “This always felt good. [De Niro’s and my] styles are very interesting opposite of each other, and our rhythms are very much the same. We come from [New York]; we talk a certain way. It just fit. We really like each other, and it shows…We had talked about directing it ourselves, which would have been really interesting. I said, ‘You know what, Bob? I just want to be your friend.'” (Crystal, Lybarger Links)