Reviewed by: Debbie Blanton
Well, when you choose to go to a rated “R” movie you come to expect anything… and that’s usually what you get. In this case, what you get is a gangster movie with a lot of violence, gunfire, offensive sexual remarks, and a LOT of profanity mixed in with a lot of funny moments as well.
Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) is one of New York’s most powerful gangster who has grown up in the Mob life (his father was a leader in the Mob as well until he was gunned down when Paul was only 12 years old). But when it becomes time for Paul Vitti to assume his role as the leader of his crime family, he suddenly starts having trouble breathing. He can’t sleep; he’s distant and preoccupied around his wife and kids; his mistress wants to know why his “performance” is lagging; and his loyal henchmen wonder at his suddenly anxious behavior.
Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal) is a divorced psychiatrist with a young son (Kyle Sahiby) and a fiancée (Lisa Kudrow) he’s about to marry. He’s a nice guy and a loving dad who is dealing with problems with his own father who is a highly successful and self-absorbed psychiatrist himself. Because Ben doesn’t want to be like his father, he shuns the spotlight by enduring a patient list full of dull, boringly neurotic complainers without a serious challenge among them. But, this ordinary life of his takes an interesting turn when, one day, he rearends a car… which just happens to be driven by Jelly (Joe Viterelli), Paul Vitti’s bodyguard. The henchman of course aren’t interested in filing an insurance claim, for obvious reasons, but Ben offers Jelly his business card anyway.
Paul Vitti confides to his henchman that he’s considering finding a therapist, and the ever-loyal Jelly offers his boss Ben Sobol’s card. Vitti immediately seeks out the only shrink he’s ever heard of—Ben Sobol—and demands that Ben cure his panic attacks. Immediately. Completely. Before the impending crime-family meeting, at which Vitti will have to face the other Mob leaders and demonstrate that he has what it takes to be a Don.
Ben wants no part of this. He’s looking forward to a quiet wedding and a peaceful family life, but Paul keeps following him and will not leave him alone until he helps him (Think “What About Bob” meets “The Godfather”).
Despite Lisa Kudrow’s minimal but rather annoying role, the acting was pretty good but this was definitely overshadowed by all of the profanity. There was gunfire, 2 actual showings of murders taking place and other scenes of violence. There were 2 uses of God’s name in vain among the other 25+ uses of profanity… let’s put it this way: every other word seemed to be the “F” word and this became rather annoying in itself. Ben’s son uses profanity as well and there is no correction/discipline of this on the part of his father. Although there was no actual nudity, there WAS a scene showing Paul and his Mistress in the act of having sex (movements, sounds, etc…) and they do show Ben and his fiancee in bed together. There are also several references to men’s genitals that were particularly offensive as well as dicussions about sexual performance.
The one thing I DID like about the movie was the cameo appearance by Tony Bennett.
From a Christian perspective there weren’t really any redeeming qualities about this movie beyond the fact that Paul Vitti makes an effort to change his ways. It’s definitely an “adult” movie but I think a majority of Christian adults out there would probably not sit through this movie, and it’s something you definitely want to think about before sending your teenagers or children with another adult to see it. Personally, if I hadn’t situated myself right in the center of a full row I would have walked out.
Year of Release—1999