December 06, 2002 6:03am EST
Analyze That starts off with mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) nearing the end of his prison term in Sing Sing. When he realizes that a rival family has put a hit on him he fakes craziness as a way out of the slammer. Vitti does this by singing the entire score to West Side Story over and over belting out tunes such as "Tonight tonight won't be just any night " in the middle of a riot in the prison cafeteria. With his parole date just a few weeks away Vitti is released to his longtime shrink Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal) whose father has just died. The film then follows Vitti as he tries to go the straight and narrow route rather than hitting people over the head with a baseball bat. Vitti ends up taking a token job as a consultant on a popular TV mob drama Little Caesars the perfect cover for him to get back into the business. Dr. Sobel meanwhile thinks he can cure Vitti of his organized crime affliction.
As Paul Vitti De Niro gets to play a dangerous and charismatic character--something he is great at--but also gets to show off his comedic side. The musical sequences in Analyze That with De Niro singing songs like "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story are by far some of the best moments in the film. It brings a nice dimension to his otherwise tough character. De Niro's Vitti is also a great counterbalance to Crystal's Dr. Sobel a rather touchy-feely kind of guy. The two seasoned actors have spontaneity on screen that is hard to match. Friends star Lisa Kudrow resumes her role here as Laura Sobel Dr. Sobel's wife but her character is extremely untapped. She plays the ever-disapproving spouse at the beginning of the film but seems to disappear halfway through with the exception of a few lines peppered here and there. Joe Viterelli is also back as Vitti's driver Jelly. Viterelli does a wonderful job turning his typical thug character into a loveable badass who can still hustle considering he is a little old and a tad out of shape.
Analyze That was written and directed by Harold Ramis the comic genius behind Analyze This Groundhog Day National Lampoon's Vacation and Caddyshack. This second helping of Mafia comedy has just as many funny moments as the first if not more thanks in part to Crystal and De Niro. It's a shame Ramis didn't go further with De Niro's reincarnation of Tony from West Side Story. The story itself is a bit uninspired. In order to lead a Syndicate-free life Vitti devises a plan to rob a federal gold depository truck and frame the city's two rival families. It's a good concept but it is executed in a just a few scenes in the film's final moments. You get the impression someone came to the "darn it's time to wrap the film" realization three-quarters of the way in. The mob theme also feels unoriginal because HBO has already exploited it to its fullest extent with The Sopranos. Ramis however succeeds in making Analyze That an authentic New York-based tale by shooting the film entirely in NYC.
Undoubtedly motivated by a record-breaking box office weekend take of $114 million, Sony Pictures has set the opening date for its Spider-Man sequel. Spider-Man 2 will swing its way into theaters May 7, 2004 with stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst reprising their roles as Spider-Man and Mary Jane, The Associated Press reports. The film, which is based on Stan Lee's popular comic-book series, broke several box office records since its release Friday, including best single day gross and biggest per-screen average in history for a wide release.
High-powered multimedia mogul David Geffen is donating $200 million to the medical school at University of California, Los Angeles, which will now be called the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, according to AP. Geffen, the "G" in DreamWorks SKG, has donated to medical-related causes before: He gave $2.5 million to AIDS Project Los Angeles, $2.5 million to the Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York and $1.4 million to AIDS Action in Washington.
Ali director Michael Mann wants Tom Hanks to star in his next film about the Roman invasion of Britain. According to Ananova.com, Mann wants Hanks to play Julius Caesar. Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Colin Firth are also tipped to feature in the film.
Robert De Niro is set to reprise his role in Warner Bros.' sequel to the 1999 crime comedy Analyze This, aptly titled Analyze That. The film will reunite De Niro with Raging Bull co-star Cathy Moriarty-Gentile, who will play a mob widow who takes over her late husband's business, Variety reports. De Niro will resume his role as the emotionally troubled Paul Vitti.
In the Biz
Director David Fincher (Panic Room) is in discussions to helm a remake of the 1975 supernatural thriller The Reincarnation of Peter Proud for Paramount Pictures. According to Variety, the project got off the ground last year when studio-based producer Scott Rudin optioned the rights for the remake.
Real-life heroine Erin Brockovich has settled a libel lawsuit by her ex-husband, Reno, Nev., stockbroker Steven Michael Brockovich, the AP reports. In the lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in March 2001, Brockovich accused his ex-wife of libel, slander, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress for stating in two publications that he didn't pay child support for their daughter.
The World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. has dropped its WWF name for a new moniker. The company will now be known as World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., or WWE, Reuters reports. WWF officials cited the company's losing battle with the World Wildlife Fund over the infamous initials as a factor for the switch, Reuters reports.
MTV has ordered eight half-hour episodes of a musical sketch/comedy show from the Bomb-itty boys--GQ, Jordan Allen-Dutton, Erik Weiner (aka Red Dragon) and J.A.Q.--the writing/performing team of the Off Broadway hit The Bomb-itty of Errors, Variety reports. The show is slated to air this fall.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, schlemiel, schlimazel, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated! Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams will reunite for Laverne & Shirley Together Again. The show will air at 8 p.m. tonight on ABC.
Carsey-Werner-Mandabach, the TV production company behind That '70s Show, will cut up to 25 percent of its staff over the next few weeks, according to Variety. A spokesman for CWM said the cuts are part of an effort to keep the company a lean, profitable operation in a competitive TV environment.
Michael Jackson, Tonos Entertainment and AOL have launched a songwriting contest offering fans a chance to collaborate with the self-proclaimed King of Pop, the AP reports. Jackson will record the winning submission, possibly including it on an upcoming album. All proceeds will go to children's charities. The contest runs through June 10.
The family of an Argentinean pop star who was killed in a rollover accident while driving his 1998 Ford Explorer on June 24, 2000, is suing Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. The family filed the suit in the U.S. District Court in Miami after a Buenos Aires court ruled that the singer, Rodrigo Bueno, was at fault.
Norwegian director Even Benestad's documentary on his transvestite doctor father, Alt om min far (All About My Father) has won top honors at the 9th annual HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Variety reports. Montreal's Andre-Line Beauparlant took home the director's honor.
Comedian/writer Judy Toll died Thursday at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., after a long battle with melanoma. She was 44. Toll most recently served as a consultant on HBO's Sex and the City, Variety reports.
It seems street-smart magician David Blaine's distinctive brand of urban magic--mind reading, sleight of hand and his now famous levitation--caught the attention of quite a few Hollywood hot shots several years ago, including veteran actor Robert De Niro.
Performing his tricks at trendy clubs and restaurants across both coasts, Blaine soon found himself adored by legions of stars--Madonna, Spike Lee, Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Geffen. He captured the heart of singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, though they've since broken up, and more recently he's been attached to Cover Girl model Josie Moran.
Now that's a life of which movies are made, and De Niro took notice.
In 1997 the "goodfella" bought the rights to make a film about Blaine's life, and rumors have circulated that Leonardo DiCaprio--a known associate of Blaine's who also happens to be dating a model, Brazil's finest Gisele Bündchen--would star.
Big names, cool project, magic, guys who date models and rock stars--it has all the makings of a potential Hollywood blockbuster. So Hollywood.com decided to investigate the movie, and the people attached to it, in this first installment of our newest column, Hot Projects.
In with the in crowd
It all started in 1997, when ABC gave Blaine, then 24, his first television special, David Blaine: Street Magic. Here's the connection. DiCaprio hosted it. Blaine became an overnight success (the network later went on to produce three other specials, David Blaine: Magic Man, David Blaine: Buried Alive and David Blaine: Frozen in Time), and the Titanic star and the good looking trickster with grunge appeal became buds.
Before he knew it, Blaine was running around town partying with DiCaprio's posse, which included Tobey Maguire, Lukas Haan and skateboarder Tony Hawk. The posse was known for tearing up the New York club scene and obsessing over--you guessed it--models.
But DiCaprio and Blaine reportedly had a falling out. Some sources blamed it on DiCaprio's bratty behavior and jealousy over the attention Blaine was receiving; others rumored it was over a woman. She was probably a model.
Whatever the reason, suffice it to say DiCaprio will not be starring in the film.
"It is not confirmed," DiCaprio's publicist Ken Sunshine said about the role. "It's a lie."
So that's settled. No word yet on who will play Leo.
The De Niro connection
In addition to owning the rights to the story, it's been said that De Niro will star in the film as a magician who takes Blaine under his wing. While MGM Pictures confirmed that Trick Monkey is on their development list, publicists for De Niro's production company, Tribeca Productions, which develops projects in which De Niro serves as producer, director and/or actor, said they had no information available on the film.
Jim Uhls, whose last project was Fight Club starring Brad Pitt, has already written the screenplay.
No one's talking about who will play Blaine's various love interests.
We can tell De Niro's future
Well, we know this much anyway. We'll see several other De Niro projects before this one ever comes to fruition. In Showtime, about cops who go on a reality TV show to boost the department's image, De Niro stars with Eddie Murphy and Rene Russo. That just wrapped last month. Also wrapped are About a Boy, starring Hugh Grant, Rachel Weisz, Toni Collette and De Niro, and City by the Sea starring De Niro, Frances McDormand and James Franco.
Along with Billy Crystal, De Niro is also currently in talks to reprise his role as Paul Vitti in a sequel to Analyze This, Analyze This Too.
In 2001 Blaine will bring his magic show to Broadway, and Villard Books publish will his first book, Mysterious Stranger this fall.