Looking around the net recently, I've noticed a lot of articles criticizing Robert De Niro for his recent choices in movie roles, namely going for a lot of light comedy instead of the weighty, dramatic roles that made him famous and gave him an creditable claim to "Greatest actor of his generation." Just do a Google search for the phrases "Say it ain't so" and "De Niro" and you'll see exactly what I mean (I tried to track down an editorial one of the columnists over the The Digital Bits wrote saying many of these things, but couldn't find it), he's been roundly criticized for his parts in Analyze This, Meet the Parents, their respective sequels, Showtime, Rocky & Bullwinkle, etc. So my question is, why has he made that shift? Has he lost his mind? Is he just "phoning it in" for the money? Does he simply not care anymore? My personal belief is that this is his "retirement" from movies. Let's face it, this man has defined more characters then just about any other actor, and has put a massive number of quotes in popular culture. Jake La Motta, Travis Bickle, young Vito Corleone, Noodles Aaronson, and plenty of others are absolutely fantastic performances. I'm still in awe of how well they aged him in Once Upon A Time In America, he has aged in real life to look almost exactly like he did in the "old Noodles" scenes of that movie. I think now though, he's tired of those heavy, taxing roles. He knows that they're forever ingrained in cinematic history, and he probably won't ever match those performances again, so I think now he's doing parts that he simply finds fun. This is his way of enjoying himself, getting to work in his chosen profession for sheer enjoyment, and not having to work at getting the emotional drama and power of his signature roles. Now, he can simply enjoy giving Ben Stiller a lie detector test over pornography, or break down crying at an insurance commercial. His place in history is established, this is a man who has nothing left to prove, and can now afford to take advantage of that fact. Anyway, that's what I thought looking at the last few movies he's been in, anyone else have any thoughts?