Seeking to capitalize on the popularity of films with huge box office returns, motion picture studios are wont to dip into the well more than once to get every last drop of potential revenue from their movie franchises. Oftentimes, there’s nothing left to milk and the studio ends up merely wasting its time, talent and money. Fortunately, that is not entirely the case with Analyze That, the amusing sequel to director Harold Ramis’s $100 million-plus grossing comedy Analyze This. While not as fresh or genuinely funny as the first, the follow-up has plenty going for it, most notably the surprising ease with which the cast reprise their original roles. The Odd Couple-ish relationship between impulsive, former mob-boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) and his former-now-current suburban therapist Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal) feels incredibly natural. In This, Crystal’s straight-man therapist worked to get to the bottom of De Niro’s comical neurosis. In That, each man faces a life crisis (Sobel’s father has just died, causing him to question everything, and Vitti is marked for death while serving time in Sing Sing) and leans on the other for emotional help. Vitti gets an early release from prison by acting crazy as a loon. Subsequently, he’s placed into the custody of the reluctant and increasingly neurotic Sobel. Vitti pulls out all the stops in a dual quest to get a “normal” job and find out who’s trying to kill him. This is when the fun is supposed to start but, for some reason, the movie never seems to really take off. Oh, it has definite moments (see Crystal eat and talk with a semi-paralyzed mouth and watch as De Niro takes a shot at a few show tunes), but far too many jokes fall flat or were entirely given away in the film’s trailer. The film is burned by endless slow patches and, ultimately, feels painfully routine. For a comedy, there are perhaps too many mouth-gaping instances of out and out cold-blooded violence. Still, Analyze That contains enough sparks of originality and New York gangland-style humor to brighten even its dullest moments (plus, Crystal has a way of being funny even when he’s trying not to be). As far as movie sequels go, Analyze That makes for a mostly tolerable showing, but falls just short of hitting that game-winning home run.
- Harold Ramis
- Peter Steinfeld, Harold Ramis, Peter Tolan
- Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow, Joe Viterelli, Joe D'Onofrio, William DeMeo, Richard Maldone, Moet, Cathy Moriarty
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