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Paul Vitti (De Niro) is a high-ranking mafia member, involved in organizing the first nationwide summit since 1957. The Mafia is under threat by the FBI, as well as by their Chinese and Russian rivals in organized crime. Vitti also has to avoid assassination attempts by young upstarts. Meanwhile, psychiatrist Ben Sobel (Crystal) is agonizing over his problematic relationship with his son, how boring his patients are and his upcoming second marriage.
When Vitti starts having panic attacks, a first in his life, he deems psychiatric help is in order. Sobel is the lucky psychiatrist chosen for the job. Sobel's life is more or less taken over by his needy patient, who has no problem having his thugs regularly abduct Sobel for their sessions. More trouble comes into his life when the FBI decides to turn the psychiatrist into their newest informant.
The film is well-regarded for its partly serious and partly humorous look at the stress and depression of De Niro's character. It was also a commercial hit and received a sequel, Analyze That (2002). While not a complete flop, the second film was a critical failure, killing the idea of another sequel.
Interestingly, released the same year as the start of a TV series involving a Mafioso and his psychiatrist. Whether one inspired the other, or it was just coincidence, or if there was just "something in the air" isn't entirely clear.
The film provides examples of:
FBI Agent Steadman: Dr. Sobel, Ma'am: I'm Agent Steadman, Agent Ricci, Agent Provano, Federal Bureau Of Investigation, OCD.
- Actor Allusion: Vitti is very obviously a parody of the sorts of gangsters De Niro played many times previously.
- Completely Different Title: The French title is closer to Mafia Blues.
- In Polish, it's Gangster's Depression.
- Confess in Confidence: Vitti opens up to Sobel about his stress-related problems, both in his professional and personal life.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: How Vitti's henchman Jelly avoided jail time in one case--a witness "stabbed himself in the back four times and threw himself off a bridge."
- Later mocked when a would-be assassin is thrown out of the penthouse window (during Sobel's wedding no less):
Vitti: It was probably suicide. Jelly, have they found a suicide note yet?
- Deconstructive Parody: Of the gangster genre and the adverse effects living like a criminal will produce.
- Dead-Man Switch: If anyone kills Vitti, his documents on the other mobsters will go public.
- Doctor's Orders: Having difficulty asserting this is a major problem.
- Epiphany Therapy: Vitti keeps expecting this, but it's never as neat and tidy as he wishes it would be.
- Humiliation Conga: What dignity Vitti retains at the end of the movie is utterly destroyed at the beginning of the second as he clowns in front of the other prisoners to keep them from trying to kill him.
- I Have Many Names: Parodied when Sobel tries to fit in amongst the gangsters. Apparently, he's also "Benny the Groin," "Elmer the Fudd," and on one occasion "Miss Phyllis Levine."
- I Have This Friend: Vitti tries this, but it doesn't work.
- Indulgent Fantasy Segue: Sobel's fantasy of telling a patient exactly what he thinks of her.
- More Dakka: The number of gun fights in this film should be a Drinking Game.
- Oedipus Complex: Mocked. "Have you seen my mother?"
- Percussive Therapy: When Sobel suggests "hitting a pillow" to Vitti as a means of calming down, Vitti unloads a 9mm clip into a defenseless cushion.
- Precision F-Strike: " ... but the people who know me, call me the fucking Doctor." Sobel introduces himself to the gangster summit meeting.
- Verb This
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Vitti had been fighting with his dad and was very angry at him, but is haunted by guilt due to watching him die.