Analyze That

A Film Review By Michael Haley

< Rating:R for strong language, sexual situations and violence. 
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow, Joe Viterelli. 
Directed By:Harold Ramis 

Final Grade: 

Anaylze This, released a few years ago, wasn’t exactly a modern arts masterpiece but it was original and even kind of charming, considering the number of F words and nastiness of some of the mobsters portrayed within. The concept was brilliant…a mobster who needs a shrink to deal with his personal issues…and DeNiro and Crystal played so well off of each other that it was a great time and a big money maker for Warner Brothers. As is with all money makers, a sequel was planned, reuniting DeNiro, Crystal, and the GoodFellas of the original for a second outing. Can lightning strike twice? It can, but this time doesn’t.

DeNiro, as mobster Paul Vitti, is serving time in the slammer after the events of the first movie. Someone from one of the families wants him dead, and with corrupt guards that are looking to kill him, he needs out of prison and fast. He fakes insanity so he will be placed into Dr. Sobill’s (Crystal) care, and once out, he wants to get even with those who have betrayed him. However, Sobill insists that he has to find a job and clean himself up, so he becomes the technical advisor on a t.v. show. Meanwhile, Sobill’s father has died, and the “process” that he goes through causes severe drain on the good doctor’s psyche, who is slowly becoming more bonkers than Vitti is.

This sequel was made because director Harold Ramis wanted to further extend the story of these two men, who’s hilarious antics examine the meaning of reality…oh who the hell am I kidding, the only reason this film exists is as a big paycheck for Warner Brothers Studios. Unfortunately, this mentality makes itself apparent throughout the film, whether the actors are aware or not. DeNiro and Crystal are good as usual, but it feels as if they’re going through the usual motions…get angry, cry, hug, shoot the mobster trying to kill either of them at the moment, and repeat for the third movie. The movie follows the same template as the first one almost to a T, replacing only the characters and the charm. It’s simply not as fun to watch these guys deal with each other this time around, as not only do know what’s going to happen next twenty minutes ahead of the characters but because the originality is gone.

The only characters from the first film that even remotely matter in the sequel are the leads, and everyone else is thrown in for window dressing. In one respect this is a blessing, as Lisa Kudrow was hardly given any screen time to annoy the hell out of me. Her character was so-so in the first one, but grated my nerves this time for all three minutes she was in the film. However, Vitti’s right hand man Jelly is also given the shaft, and although he appears in the film more than Kudrow, his significance is severely reduced. He is given one shot where he’s allowed to shine, and that’s when Vitti brings in all the mob guys to play extras on the television show with Jelly leading the pack. That aside, the screenwriters give him no memorable moments or dialogue, and his semi-absence is felt big time.

And yet another complaint (don’t worry, I’ve reserved one paragraph for positives of the film!) is that the new introductions to the film are poorly mishandled. For example, the television show that Vitti works for was a gold mine that was hardly touched. We could have easily gotten a riff on The Sopranos (an easy target maybe, but a worthy one) that was overlooked, and the director of the show was stuffy to the point where I didn’t want to laugh at or with him, I wanted Jelly to hurry and whack him already. A whole movie could have easily been made of this one concept, which would have done with the rehashed and ridiculous family plot that was phoned in from the first movie, and would have made the sequel a true continuation of the first film, not to mention it would have been something original. Finally, the subplot with Crystal and his dead father didn’t ring true for even the slightest moment, and was merely chucked in for dramatic weight.

That’s not to say that this movie is a total failure. There are some moments where one senses DeNiro and Crystal breaking loose from the confines of the plot and giving their all, and there are some juicy bits sprinkled here and there. The scenes where Vitti is trying to do ordinary, everyday jobs is priceless, especially when he’s a car salesman trying to sell a Mercedes to an indecisive couple, with such lines as “Look at the trunk. You could easily fit three bodies in there,” and “you’ve been busting my balls for the last half hour and now you’re not going to buy the f***ing car?” Also, I liked when Vitti was supposedly going nuts in prison, assuming the roles of Broadway singer, lost child, and catatonic patient. These are the moments that are merely filler for the rest of the plot, although sadly the rest of the plot comes off as filler and these are the only moments that truly shine.

Analyze That isn’t a total failure, but it’s a surprisingly weak effort considering the considerable talent involved (DeNiro, Crystal, Ramis, not Kudrow). The first act of the movie starts off with promise, the second is mediocre, and the third is almost unwatchable, and although there was some nice moments, I can’t justify recommending the film to students who only have so much money to spend, and are looking for a film that won’t disappoint them. I’d say you’re better off renting the original film if you’re looking for Mobster yucks, but if you’re heading to the theatre, see something else unless everything else’s sold out (not likely when such cinematic masterpieces as Extreme Ops and THEY are currently playing). 

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