Sorry i’ve been away, folks. Life has been pretty chaotic. I’m now done with the Thanksgiving gauntlet, and ready to resume my reviews. In the interest of getting it all done and catching up with where I should be, I’m going to keep these next few reviews brief and to-the-point.
The 1999 film stars Billy Crystal as Ben Sobel, a psychiatrist that gets pushed into treating anxiety-ridden mobster Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro). Vitti is preparing for a nationwide Mafia conference/summit, but his frequent panic attacks cripple him and lead him to seek treatment from Dr. Sobel. This culminates in Sobel representing Vitti at the summit, and managing to hold his own until a dramatic shootout at the climax.
This film is one of the staples of 1990s comedy. Both of the protagonists exaggerate their characters to the point of being unrealistic, but wonderfully so. It requires that viewers suspend their disbelief, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The dialogue falls flat sometimes, but it also has some gems. The plot does seem to lose itself at times. I did particularly enjoy De Niro’s character, which showed the softer side to the mobsters we see in newspaper headlines. Paul Vitti had a family that he loved very much, and his anxiety attacks were the result of unresolved guilt over his father’s death. He was a mafia boss who was honest (brutally so, sometimes) and showed the full range of human emotion, even crying at times.
A tighter script would have helped the film out, but overall it wasn’t detrimental. I enjoyed this one, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good (not outstanding, but good) comedy.