Analyze That (2002) / Comedy-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for language and some sexual content
Running Time: 96 min.
Cast: Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow, Joe Viterelli, Cathy Moriarty
Director: Harold Ramis
Screenplay: Peter Steinfeld, Harold Ramis, Peter Tolan
Review published December 11, 2002
I'm not sure what prompted someone to want to make a sequel to 1999's hit comedy Analyze This, but I'm guessing that the decision was purely based on the fact that it made over $100 million at the box office and not because there were more elements to the Paul Vitti (De Niro, City by the Sea) saga that needed to be told. Although I did enjoy Analyze This, I audibly groaned upon first sight of the trailer for Analyze That, mostly because I feel that what was enjoyable fare for one film becomes trite and bland when extending it for another 90 minutes with jokes that didn't make the cut the first time around. Still, I did have my hopes up for at least a decent time-filler, mostly because I like De Niro, and Crystal (Monsters Inc.) is a naturally funny guy. What I didn't expect was that the writers of Analyze That had more interest in being a drama than a comedy, with a second half that, if not for a handful of forced moments, would have had no humor at all.
Analyze That starts off with Paul Vitti doing a short prison stint, but with months to go before going before the parole board, attempts to his life are being made. Vitti knows that the mob families are warring with each other and they all fear Vitti's entrance into the mix, so no one really wants to see his release. Vitti hatches a plane whereby he can remove himself from prison by acting crazy, singing show tunes and whatnot, and psychiatric counsel is deemed necessary. Enter Dr. Barry Sobel, his former shrink, who is entrusted with full care of Vitti but also full responsibility should he be faking or re-enter the crime world. Sobel is having problems of his own in the stress department, what with the death of his father and running the business, as well as the new responsibility of taking care of one of the country's most dangerous criminals, and one whose life is in constant jeopardy on top of it.
What's perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Analyze That is not just the fact that it isn't nearly as funny as the first film, but that for long stretches it doesn't even try to be. There are entire scenes which are played out as drama, and once the action starts near the end of the film, there's quite a bit of very serious violence, perhaps too serious in tone to jibe with the light-hearted comedy. On the occasions when it does go for the laughs, the results are more miss than hit. It did evoke a few solid chuckles here and there, but not nearly enough make the film worth my time. Crystal and De Niro work well together, but they aren't on-screen together very much, and Lisa Kudrow's (The Opposite of Sex) character has been reduced to the point of where she's only a few lines shy of being a movie extra. There is too much regurgitation of humor as well, and scenes of Vitti sobbing uncontrollably or pointing at Sobel and saying, "You...You're good, you!" makes it clear that Analyze That really had nothing new to bring to the table.
Analyze This didn't need a sequel, but if one had to be made, Analyze That chose the wrong direction to go. The main plot is contrived enough as it is, but considering the paltry amounts of entertainment once the story is underway, it hardly seems worth the effort. Even if you enjoyed the first film, you'd have to be the kind of person who never got tired of seeing the same jokes over and over to get enough enjoyment out of the humor in this unoriginal sequel. Analyze That is a complete waste of talent and money, and unfortunately, our time. Here's hoping that Vitti never needs psychological counseling again.
©2002 Vince Leo