1999's "Analyze This" was a stale, uneven mobster comedy with the
unlikely partnering of Robert De Niro (2002's "City by the Sea") and
Billy Crystal (2001's "America's Sweethearts"). Neverminding its quality,
the film somehow made over $100-million at the box office, and common
knowledge tells you that where there's money to be made in Hollywood,
there's a sequel just around the corner. "Analyze That" is more of
the same--a near-carbon copy of its predecessor--meaning that it has
a handful of funny moments surrounded by a boatload of unfunny ones.
Approaching the end of his 18-month sentence in a Sing Sing prison,
former mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) has apparently flown over
the edge into insanity, performing nonstop songs from "West Side Story."
When former psychiatrist Dr. Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal) is called upon
to diagnose Vitti, Ben unwittingly is forced to take Vitti home with
him until his condition improves. Little does the prison board know
that it is all just an act to get prematurely released. Sure enough,
after failed attempts at real jobs to go straight, Vitti has resorted
back into his Mafia family.
"Analyze That" is a tedious excursion into formulaic and uninspired
comedic territory. Returning writer-director Harold Ramis and co-screenwriters
Peter Steinfeld and Peter Tolan fail to put a fresh spin on the original's
already-tired material, with their idea of inventiveness being the
spoofing of "The Sopranos" with a show called "Little Caesar."
With nothing of note on display, and no new insights into the paper-thin
characters, the film is mired in desperation. The enjoyable outtakes
shown over the end credits only further concrete this suspicion.
The returning actors on display--De Niro, Crystal, Lisa Kudrow (2000's
"Lucky Numbers"), and Joe Viterelli (2002's "Serving Sara")--deserve
much better than the lackluster material they have been given. Granted,
having De Niro deliriously sing the soundtrack from "West Side Story"
may have appeared funny on paper, but it only comes off as odd in
the finished product. The few zingers that do work can only be attributed
to the actors' delivery. As Crystal's exasperated wife, Laura, Lisa
Kudrow is the movie's most regretful casualty, thoroughly wasted and
put to no worthwhile use in the proceedings.
"Analyze That" moves a more successful pace than "Analyze This," but
that is its only claim to superiority. By the time the overlong heist
climax comes into play, even its halfhearted striving for comedy all
but disappears to make way for dull action scenes. If "Analyze the
Other Thing" comes to fruition in 2005, the thought of being shot
point-blank may sound like a more desirable option than having to
wallow through another 95 minutes of such inanity.
Copyright © 2002 Dustin Putman