Analyze That Review
By Shawn McKenzie 12/05/2002
I remember what I was first thinking when Analyze This came out three years ago. When it landed in theaters in March of 1999, I thought, “Didn’t HBO just come out with a new TV show recently that already explored this topic?” Of course, I am referring to “The Sopranos,” a show that had premiered on HBO two months earlier. I thought it was a little weird that there was already a movie about a mafia boss seeing a therapist, since the TV show had already treaded upon that ground. Once I saw the movie, I realized that it was strictly going for laughs, whereas the TV show, while it has its funny moments, is mainly a drama. When I heard that they were making a sequel to Analyze This, I was trying to figure out what exactly they were going to do to make it different than the first one. Not much was done differently, but that is actually okay.
In case you forgot, the Analyze movies focus mainly on the relationship between mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) and family therapist Dr. Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal.) As Analyze That starts, we see that Paul is in Sing-Sing for the crimes he committed in the first movie. He runs the place; so much so that he can have the television changed during the inmates’ favorite show, “Little Caesar” (an obvious “Sopranos” rip-off.) Someone is trying to kill him in jail though, so he calls Ben. Ben gets the call at one of the worst possible times…during his father’s funeral. When Ben hangs up on Paul instead of chatting with him, Paul decides to play crazy in order to drive Ben into helping him out of jail. He starts singing songs from West Side Story and pretending to be catatonic. Since he is a month away from his parole hearing, the FBI decides to move Paul to Ben’s house during the duration. This doesn’t sit well with his wife Laura (Lisa Kudrow), since she saw all the stuff Paul did in the first movie. Once they leave the prison, it is made obvious that Paul was faking. He does, however, seem to want to legitimately straighten out his life, until he sees Patty LoPresti (Cathy Moriarty-Gentile.) She is the widow of the man who took over Paul’s crime family when he went to jail, and now she is the boss. He suspects her involvement in the attempted hits being made on him, but he also suspects rival boss Lou the Wrench (Frank Gio.) After therapy doesn’t seem to be working and a series of “legitimate” jobs don’t work out so well, Paul employs his old associate Jelly (Joe Viterelli) to help him get back in the life and find out who is behind the assassination attempts. He uses his latest “legitimate” job as a cover. It is as a consultant on the show mentioned above, “Little Caesar.” It stars an Australian actor (Anthony LaPaglia) in the Tony Soprano-ish role and is directed by an English theater director named Raoul Berman (Reg Rogers.) Can Paul find out who is trying to kill him? Can Ben set him on the straight and narrow?
Make no mistake, this is De Diro’s movie. He hams it up more in this movie then he did in the first one. It almost seems like he has been paying attention to all the impersonations that comedians have done of him over the last few years and decided to parody them. He does the “De Niro” to the hilt. His funniest scene, though, is one with Crystal where he is pretending to be catatonic, and Crystal is testing to see if he is faking (check out the blooper version of this scene during the closing credits, which is even funnier.)
Crystal is great here too, even if he doesn’t get as many scenes this time around as he did in the first one. Funny faces are prevalent in this movie, because there is a hilarious scene in a restaurant where Crystal slurs his speech after accidentally combining prescription drugs with alcohol that rivals De Niro’s catatonic scene.
Kudrow is scandalously underused here, but that was the case in the first movie as well. In both movies, she seems to be making a glorified cameo appearance. It is a huge shame, because in her brief scenes, she is very funny and could have been so much funnier. They had a woman mob boss here, so why couldn’t they have found a funny way to involve her in the criminal activities the same way they involve Crystal? Maybe she will get more face time in the third one, Analyze Her Too (not a real sequel in the works, just my idea if they make one.)
Analyze That doesn’t really offer anything new, other than more of the same laughs. Fortunately, there are laughs here. Actor/director Harold Ramis did a good job of bringing a decent follow-up to a hit R-rated movie (don't you hate it when hit R-rated movies are followed up by a wussy PG-13 rated sequel?) This might be cliché to say, but if you liked the first movie, you will like this one, and I did.
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