2002, R, 100 min. Directed by Harold Ramis. Starring Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Cathy Moriarty-Gentile, Lisa Kudrow, Anthony Lapaglia, Joe Viterelli.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 13, 2002
This obviously titled sequel to 1999's mobster-in-therapy comedy may have seemed like a sure thing during the initial round of production meetings but director Ramis and company forgot to take into account one important fact -- mainly that the first film's big-screen simultaneity with the first season of The Sopranos central gag now seems unavoidably dated and tired. Tony Soprano and Dr. Melfi's convoluted relationship on HBO has proven to have remarkable staying power. That's due in large part to the show's top-notch writing, which, even four seasons down the road, continues to hold its own as far as being consistently entertaining and original. That's exactly what's missing from Analyze That, which while being consistent in its recitation of penis jokes and the sort of bottom-basement Catskills comedy routines that Crystal increasingly builds his professional life around, is unfortunately about as original as a gangster sweating bullets while worrying about a contract on his life. That's the set-up, by the way, of this film, which re-teams De Niro's angsty mob boss Paul Vitti and Crystal's wry, Jewish psychiatrist Ben Sobel. Vitti, fearing for his life in Sing Sing, successfully gains his walking papers by faking a mental breakdown via show tunes and is entrusted to the care of Sobel, who isn't fooled one bit. Back home at the Sobels', wife Laura (Kudrow) is aghast at the notion that her perfect home is now housing a disgruntled mafioso. As Sobel tries to get Vitti on the straight and narrow via a series of straight jobs -- car dealer, restaurant employee, jeweler -- before latching onto an advisory role on a Sopranos knock-off, the jokes struggle to define the term “wacky” but merely end up the sort of labored gags that give most ex-SNL cast-member outings their familiar patina. De Niro can now mug with the best of them, however, and his elasticized facial twitchery is something to behold. He gawks and goggles his way through the proceedings while enmeshed in a host of semi-comical looks and tics that border on Jim Carrey's early over-the-top output. He's done this sort of self-mocking humor quite a bit since the previous analysis, but it's still odd to watch him and connect the dots back to Mean Streets. Crystal, on the other hand, has shown more zip and zing in his opening Oscar song-and-dance numbers of yore; he's treading water here, and the film's lackluster script (by Kenneth Lonergan, who manhandled De Niro in the regrettable Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Peter Tolan) is strictly a middle-of-the-road affair. Harold Ramis, who long ago penned the great Animal House and directed the near-great Groundhog Day, helms the proceedings with a vapid hand -- the action's as uninspired as the mediocre comedy bits. Even Cathy Moriarty-Gentile's role as a rival mob boss (with a nod to Raging Bull) can't save this DOA affair.