Kenneth Lonergan is one of the three credited screenwriters behind “Analyze This,” but that doesn’t mean he’s ever actually seen it. The “Margaret” and “Manchester by the Sea” writer-director revealed this particular gap in his viewing history during his appearance on WTF With Marc Maron, explaining that the mafioso comedy starring Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro has eluded him for nearly 20 years because his contribution to the finished film was ultimately quite little.
“I love it,” Maron said of the film during their conversation. “It’s a movie I’ve watched repeatedly.” That’s when Lonnergan interjected that he’d never seen it himself, which took a moment for Maron to register; asked why, the filmmaker revealed that “it was rewritten…it was one of my first Hollywood experiences. I wasn’t surprised at all, because I knew what I was getting into, but it’s been rewritten by 14 people. There’s not really a word of mine left in it, except the title. The idea behind it is mine, originally the kind of humor that’s in it is mine, so I take some credit for it, but it was just rewritten totally out of my…I’ve seen bits of it, and it does seem very funny to me.”
This came during a wider discussion about the line between comedy and drama, which Lonnergan believes is thin to the point of not existing — which explains why a film like “Manchester by the Sea,” for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, is so funny at times despite its overall bleakness.
Lonnergan is clearly in the minority in never having seen “Analyze This,” as it made $176 million at the box office and spawned a 2002 sequel. One wonders how many of the other dozen-plus writers saw it. Listen to his full appearance on “WTF” here.