REVIEW: ANALYZE THAT

CAST

Robert De Niro (Joy)
Billy Crystal (Monsters, Inc)
Lisa Kudrow (Easy A)
Joe Viterelli (Shallow Hal)
Cathy Moriarty (Casper)
Joyce Brothers (Spy Hard)
John Finn (Cold Case)

Near the completion of his sentence in Sing Sing prison, Paul Vitti’s life is threatened by assassins and corrupt guards while incarcerated. He starts singing showtunes from West Side Story to get the attention of Ben Sobel, who previously hung up on him while attending his father’s funeral. The FBI calls in Ben to see if Vitti is really insane. This appears to be the case, and the FBI approves Ben taking Vitti out of prison, into his own custody, for further therapy. On their way out in Sobel’s car, Vitti reveals that he faked it. Needing some therapy himself after his father’s death, a grieving Sobel talks Vitti into finding a regular job (as requested by the FBI). Vitti attempts to find a legitimate job (he tries a car dealer, a restaurant, and a jewelry store), but his rude manners and paranoia only complicate things further. This ends up in him getting fired each time.At the same time, Vitti is told by de facto boss Patti LoPresti that the Rigazzi family wants him dead. He responds to this by telling the Rigazzis that he is “out” and seeking a new line of employment. He eventually finds employment working as a technical advisor on the set of a Sopranos-like mafia TV series. Meanwhile, FBI agents inform Sobel that Vitti has his former crew back together, and may be planning something major. This rouses Sobel’s suspicion, and he visits Vitti. Both get caught up in a car chase with Rigazzi hitmen, which ends up with Vitti escaping. The FBI blames Sobel, and gives him 24 hours to locate Vitti.After locating Vitti (through Sobel’s son Michael, who is now working as Vitti’s chauffeur), Sobel discovers Vitti is planning a big armored car heist with LoPresti as a partner. He attempts to intervene and talk Vitti out of it but Vitti proceeds and Sobel is forced to go along as well. The crew ambushes the armored car with smoke grenades, and lift it over a fence in the midst of the confusion. They extract $20 million of gold bullion, but LoPresti’s thugs take over, revealing themselves to actually have been working for Rigazzi. Sobel, in a fit of anger, beats one of them and Vitti’s men take care of the rest. They use the gold bullion to frame the Rigazzi family, leaving three Rigazzi goons locked in the armored truck suspended from the crane. This leads to the arrest of the entire Rigazzi family, and in turn, prevents a mob war. Sobel meets with Vitti and Jelly near bridges on the New York waterfront, and they part ways again as friends, singing another West Side Story showtune together.MCDANTH EC005The film is pretty funny and worth seeing, but doesn’t really offer us anything new. This is forgivable, though, because Crystal and De Niro are entertaining enough to carry the picture. Overall, I’d recommend it — it’s funny and watchable and the two leads are very good.

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REVIEW: ANALYZE THIS

CAST

Robert De Niro (Joy)
Billy Crystal (Monsters, Inc)
Lisa Kudrow (Easy A)
Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale)
Joe Viterelli (Shallow Hal)
Molly Shannon (Bad Teacher)
Tony Darrow (Goodfellas)

Mob boss Paul Vitti narrates a brief history of the Mafia: in the wake of Albert Anastasia’s death, the dispute over who among Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino and Joe Bananas will ascend to mob supremacy results in the Apalachin Meeting in upstate New York. The meeting is raided by the FBI, and the Mafia does not call a summit again until the present day. Vitti and his consigliere Dominic are discussing the upcoming meeting and the Mafia’s present-day problems. However, just as Dominic warns Vitti to look out for Primo Sindone (an up-and-coming Mafia Don who wants to be capo di tutti capi), gunmen drive past and kill Dominic.Psychiatrist Ben Sobel is dealing with his own problems: his son from his first marriage listens to his sessions, his patients are not challenging enough, and his wedding to Laura MacNamara is coming soon. Sobel unknowingly rear-ends a car belonging to Vitti and the trunk opens, revealing a man bound and gagged inside, which Sobel and his son do not notice because they are arguing. Jelly, one of Vitti’s made men, takes the blame, but Sobel gives Jelly his business card in case he changes his mind about compensation.During a meeting with his crew, Vitti suffers a panic attack and tells Jelly that he needs to see a psychiatrist, but it has to be kept a secret and Jelly recommends Sobel. Vitti visits Sobel, claiming his friend needs therapy. Sobel impresses Vitti enough to want to see him whenever necessary. Sobel goes to Miami for his wedding and Vitti, Jelly and the crew follow. Vitti explains he has been suffering from erectile dysfunction and Sobel suggests the source of the problem might be stress.The next day Vitti has another panic attack and requests to see Sobel. Vitti explains his history with his father to Sobel, who thinks this might have something to do with Vitti’s problems. The wedding is interrupted when an assassin is killed by one of Vitti’s thugs. Sobel confronts Vitti and argues with him until he becomes angry. Sobel suggests he resolve his anger issue by calling Primo Sindone and telling him how he feels. Vitti phones Primo and starts by telling him how he feels but ends up threatening to kill him.Sobel and his family return to New York, where they find a fountain in their garden, a gift from Vitti. The FBI arrive and request Sobel inform on Vitti, but he refuses. He changes his mind when the FBI play an altered tape in which Vitti apparently reveals his intention to kill Sobel (Vitti had actually said he would kill anyone who harmed Sobel). Sobel wears a wire to his next meeting with Vitti, but throws it away when he learns that Vitti saw his father murdered when he was a child. Sobel thinks he can help Vitti, but Vitti, informed that Sobel was working with the FBI, takes him to a secluded place to kill him. Sobel and Vitti get into an argument, and Vitti cries when reminded of his father’s murder. Just as this occurs, two hitmen sent by Sindone arrive to kill Vitti, but Jelly kills them both as Vitti is on the ground sobbing. Vitti apologizes for planning to kill Sobel, and the two reconcile.The day of the meeting arrives, but Vitti has another meltdown. Jelly interrupts Sobel’s wedding, requesting Sobel attend the meeting as Vitti’s consigliere. Sobel is initially nervous, but his self-confidence grows to the point that he begins to patronize Primo until Primo finally pulls a gun on him. Vitti arrives, ordering Primo to stand down and announcing he knows a traitor in his own family killed Dominic, but will not seek revenge and instead retire from the Mafia. Once outside, a standoff ensues between Vitti’s and Primo’s men, during which Sobel accidentally takes a bullet intended for Vitti. The FBI intervenes, the mobsters are arrested, and Sobel is taken to the hospital. Sobel visits Vitti in prison and Vitti thanks Sobel for his help before informing him that Primo Sindone was recently found dead. At home, Sobel dances with his new wife as Tony Bennett (as a favor from Vitti) serenades them.https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTY5NTIxNjE4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDY1NTIyNw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1501,1000_AL_.jpgA complete comedy farce. Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal are both great fun and so is Joe Viterelli as De Niro’s hilarious security guard Jelly. It is extremely amusing.

REVIEW: THIS IS SPINAL TAP

CAST

Michael McKean (1941)
Christopher Guest (Little Shop of Horrors)
Harry Shearer (The Simpsons)
Rob Reiner (EdTV)
June Chadwick (V: The Series)
Ed Begley Jr (Veronica Mars)
Fran Drescher (Picking Up The Pieces)
Patrick Macnee (The Avengers)
Dana Carvey (Waynes World)
Julie Payne (Wizards and Warriors)
Billy Crystal (City Slickers)
Paul Benedict (The Goodbye Girl)
Howard Hesseman (Halloween II)
Joyce Hyser (The Flash 90s)
Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)

This is Spinal Tap is presented as a serious rock documentary, purportedly filmed and directed by the fictional Marty Di Bergi (Rob Reiner, who was also the actual director of the movie). The faux documentary covers a 1982 United States concert tour by the fictional British rock group “Spinal Tap” to promote their new album Smell the Glove, interspersed with Di Bergi’s one-on-one interviews with the members of the group and footage of the group from previous periods in their career.

The band was started by childhood friends, David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), during the 1960s. Originally named “The Originals”, then “The New Originals” to distinguish themselves from an existing group of the same name,[5] they settled on the name “The Thamesmen”, finding success with their skiffle/rhythm and blues single “Gimme Some Money”. They changed their name again to “Spinal Tap” and enjoyed limited success with the flower power anthem “Listen to the Flower People”. Ultimately, the band became successful with heavy metal and produced several albums. The group was joined eventually by bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), keyboardist Viv Savage (David Kaff), and a series of drummers, each of whom mysteriously died in odd circumstances, including spontaneous human combustion, a “bizarre gardening accident” and choking to death on the vomit of unknown person(s); their current drummer is Mick Shrimpton (R. J. Parnell). 

Di Bergi’s interviews with St. Hubbins and Tufnel reveal that they are competent composers and musicians, but are dimwitted and immature. Tufnel, in showing his guitar collection to Di Bergi, reveals an amplifier that has volume knobs that go to eleven; when Di Bergi asks, “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?” Tufnel can only reply, “These go to eleven.” Tufnel later plays a somber quasi-classical music composition on piano for Di Bergi, claiming it to be a “Mach piece” (a hybrid between Mozart and Bach), before revealing the composition to be entitled “Lick My Love Pump”.

As the tour starts, concert appearances are repeatedly canceled because of low ticket sales. Tensions continue to increase when several major retailers refuse to sell Smell the Glove because of its sexist cover art and there is growing resentment shown towards the group’s manager Ian Faith (Tony Hendra). Tufnel becomes even more perturbed when St. Hubbins’ girlfriend Jeanine (June Chadwick)—a manipulative yoga and astrology devotee—joins the group on tour, begins to participate in band meetings, and attempts to influence their costumes and stage presentation. The band’s distributor, Polymer Records, opts to release Smell the Glove with an entirely black cover without consulting the band. The album fails to draw crowds to autograph sessions with the band.

To revive interest, Tufnel suggests staging a performance of “Stonehenge”, an epic song that is to be accompanied in concert by a lavish stage show, and asks Ian to order a giant Stonehenge megalith for the show. However, Tufnel, rushing a sketch on a napkin, mislabels its dimensions, using a double prime symbol instead of single prime. The resulting prop, seen for the first time by the group during a show, is only 18 inches high (instead of the intended 18 feet), making the group a laughingstock on stage. The group accuses Faith of mismanagement, and when St. Hubbins suggests Jeanine should co-manage the group, Faith quits in disgust.

The tour continues, rescheduled into smaller and smaller venues. Tufnel becomes marginalized by Jeanine and St. Hubbins. At their next gig (at a United States Air Force base near Tacoma, Washington) Tufnel is upset by an equipment malfunction and leaves the group in the middle of a show. In their next gig, in an amphitheater at an amusement park in Stockton, California, they find that Nigel’s absence severely limits their repertoire. They are forced to improvise a fusion-esque, experimental song entitled “Jazz Odyssey”, which is poorly received. At the last show of the tour, the remaining group considers retirement and venturing into forgotten side projects such as a musical theatre production on the theme of Jack the Ripper entitled Saucy Jack, and acoustic pieces with the London Philharmonic. Just before they go on stage, Tufnel reappears and informs them that he is “a messenger” from Ian Faith and the Spinal Tap song “Sex Farm” is wildly popular in Japan; in fact it has reached number 5 in the charts there. He then tells St. Hubbins that Faith would like to arrange a new tour in that country. St. Hubbins is initially cool to the idea, but later on during their show, St. Hubbins convinces Tufnel to join them on stage, reuniting the band. With Faith as manager once again, and despite losing their drummer Mick as he inexplicably explodes onstage, the film ends with Spinal Tap playing a series of sold-out arena shows for enthusiastic fans on their Japanese tour.

Spinal Tap gives you the absurdity of the rock and roll world, yet still respects the music. Overall this is a great film

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE PRINCESS BRIDE

CAST

Peter Falk (Columbo)
Fred Savage (The Wonder Years)
Betsy Brantley (Dougle Jeopardy)
Cary Elwes (Hot Shots!)
Robin Wright (Unbreakable)
Chris Sarandon (Childs Play)
Mandy Patinkin (Dead Like Me)
Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap)
Andre The Giant (Conan The Destroyer)
Wallace Shawn (Family Guy)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Billy Crystal (Analyze This)
Peter Cook (Supergirl)
Mel Smith (European Vacation)
Margery Mason (Love Actually)

In a frame story, a man (Peter Falk) reads a book, The Princess Bride, to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). Scenes of the reading occasionally interrupt the main story.  A young woman named Buttercup (Robin Wright) lives on a farm in the country of Florin. Whenever she gives her farm boy Westley (Cary Elwes) an order, he answers “as you wish” and happily complies. Eventually, she realizes that he means “I love you”—and that she loves him too. Westley leaves to seek his fortune so they can marry, but his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who famously never leaves anyone alive.

Five years later, Buttercup reluctantly agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), heir to the throne. Before the wedding, she is kidnapped by three outlaws: a Sicilian boss named Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a giant named Fezzik (André the Giant), and a Spanish master fencer named Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), who seeks revenge against the six-fingered man who killed his father. Two separate forces pursue them: Prince Humperdinck with a complement of soldiers, and a masked man dressed in black. The outlaws were actually hired by Humperdinck himself to make a pretext for war by leaving Buttercup’s dead body on the shores of rival country Guilder.

The man in black catches up to the outlaws at the top of the Cliffs of Insanity, where he defeats Inigo in a swordfight and knocks him unconscious. He then defeats Fezzik in hand-to-hand combat, choking him until he blacks out. Finally, he kills Vizzini in a battle of wits by tricking him into drinking poison, and so captures Buttercup. When he tells her he is the Dread Pirate Roberts, she becomes enraged at him for killing Westley and shoves him down a slope. As he falls he calls out “As you wish” and Buttercup realizes that the man is, in fact, Westley. Buttercup chases after him and learns that the previous Dread Pirate Roberts had offered his identity to Westley in order to be able to retire—which was also how that “Roberts” had acquired his identity.
The duo manage to cross the Fire Swamp with its fire spouts, lightning sand, and Rodents of Unusual Size, but are captured by Humperdinck and his sadistic six-fingered vizier Count Rugen (Christopher Guest). Buttercup agrees to return with Humperdinck in exchange for Westley’s release, but Humperdinck secretly has Rugen imprison and torture Westley in the Pit of Despair. Later, when Buttercup expresses unhappiness at marrying Humperdinck, he promises to search for Westley. Eventually Buttercup realizes he is lying and taunts him as a coward. Humperdinck, enraged, tortures Westley to his death. Meanwhile, Fezzik finds Inigo and informs him of Rugen’s existence. Inigo decides that they need the man in black’s help to get into the castle. Hearing cries of anguish, they reach Rugen’s torture chamber only to find Westley dead. But they take him to Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), who explains that Westley is “only mostly dead”, and supplies a pill to revive him. With the wedding imminent, they give Westley the pill too early and he awakens partially paralyzed. Still, Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik invade the castle. Humperdinck drastically abridges the wedding ceremony and locks Buttercup into her chambers.

Meanwhile Inigo finds and duels with Rugen. Seriously wounded early in the battle, he begins repeatedly reciting his long-rehearsed greeting of vengeance: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” This restores his focus and he finally slays his nemesis.Westley finds Buttercup about to commit suicide, and assures her that her marriage is void because they never said “I do.” Humperdinck confronts them but Westley bluffs him into surrendering, leaving him tied up, to contemplate his cowardice. Westley rides away triumphantly with Buttercup, Inigo, and Fezzik on horses that Fezzik conveniently discovers. As they leave, Inigo remarks that now that he has his revenge he isn’t sure what to do next; Westley suggests he become the next Dread Pirate Roberts. At last Westley and Buttercup share a passionate kiss. As the grandfather finishes the story and prepares to leave, the boy asks him to read the story again the next day. The grandfather smiles and replies, “As you wish.”

Crammed with adventure, true love, swordfights, pirates, casual villains, and a clergyman with a speech impediment, “The Princess Bride” is an adorable comic classic. A must-see.