AN EMPIRE OF ONE

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Rewrites: Analyze This

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Analyze This is a film so dull I’m not sure it is worthy of a rewrite. Practically every scene gives the feeling of being an obligatory scene. Strictly speaking, only the climax, the big meeting of the bosses, is an obligatory scene because we’re led to expect it from the beginning of the movie. But most scenes give the feeling of being in the movie out of a sense of obligation to the plot, without any sense of being there for pleasure. It’s a bit ironic that this climax, the movie’s true obligatory scene, is the only scene in the movie that begins to escape this sense of obligation to the plot when Billy Crystal takes the place of mobster boss Robert De Niro and appears to model his performance after something Jerry Lewis might do. Otherwise, the film as a whole is a good example of what happens when the plot is allowed to rule, as I described here.

There’s a film with Edward G. Robinson, The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, in which he plays a mild mannered professor who ends up being the head of a mob. Why shouldn’t what’s good for Robinson be good for Crystal?

Here’s my rewrite:

1. In the film, Crystal is a shrink. One of his patients suffers from a lack of assertiveness. This should be Crystal’s problem rather than one of his patients. Let’s make it an even bigger problem by making him an assertiveness coach who suffers from a lack of assertiveness. We see each of his patients pushing him around. We see his father pushing him around. We see his young son pushing him around. He’s as mild mannered as can be. We’ll top it off with Clark Kent glasses.

2. De Niro mistakes Crystal for a full blown psychologist when he requests therapy from him. Of course, Crystal resists De Niro’s request to be his shrink at first, but it’s mainly his family and fiancée who are alarmed at the what Crystal ends up doing and tries to get him to stop analyzing De Niro. Crystal is caught in a double bind. On one side, his family is telling him something and he would usually do what they tell him, while on the other side De Niro is making him an offer he can’t refuse. But in the end, he does it because he likes the feeling of being able to say no, for once, to his family.

3. Crystal not only analyzes De Niro, he tags along with him and starts participating in his job actions. He’s a bit alarmed that he enjoys it. He goes to his father, a real shrink, intending to ask him for help, but ends up saying nothing about his concerns because his father makes him feel just as he always makes him feel: a complete screw up. Crystal tells him that he’s in 100% control, just as the mob shows up and pulls him away.

4. De Niro ends up analyzing Crystal more than Crystal analyzes him.

4. In the end, Crystal takes over De Niro’s job while De Niro quits, with De Niro becoming a shrink himself. Crystal goes to prison. In a court scene in which the judge, expressing surprise at Crystal’s behavior, sentences him, De Niro visits Crystal who is in prison. Crystal’s ex-fiancée is already there. De Niro’s wearing eyeglasses. Crystal wants to know what the hell happened. He goes berserk, threatening De Niro as the guards drag him away. “You’re the man,” De Niro says. De Niro and Crystal’s ex-fiancée leave together.

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Written by David Kilmer

July 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

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