Analyze That (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/02/2003

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Perhaps the least-anticipated sequel ever to receive a theatrical release, this is tired, stale, and, for the most part, desperately unfunny.

If you happened to see the 1999 comedy Analyze This, in which DeNiro played a gangster who – ha ha! - needed therapy (shortly before the Sopranos came out and made that particular conceit its own), did you think “Wow. I can’t wait for the sequel to that!” ? No, of course you didn’t. Nobody did. Nobody, that is, except the suits at Warner Brothers who decided that a Mild Box Office Hit must surely be a natural for Unqualified Sequel Success.

If there were any justice, of course, this would have gone straight to video, along with other unwished-for sequels such as Cruel Intentions 2 or American Psycho 2 (“This time it’s personal”). As for the actors, well, Crystal hasn’t had a hit since…well, since Analyze This, so his involvement is understandable, but surely DeNiro had better things to do?

Bit Of A Song And Dance…

At any rate, the sequel is here, whether you like it or not. DeNiro reprises his role as gangster Paul Vitti, who begins the movie by surviving a couple of assassination attempts while in jail. Deciding to feign madness, he bursts into song from West Side Story (The Jet Song, song-fans) during a riot in the canteen, gets locked in solitary and warbles his way through the rest of the musical until his psychiatrist (Billy Crystal as Ben Sobbel) shows up. (Sadly, we’re not treated to his reputedly superb rendition of Officer Krupke).

It’s a shame, then, that this occurs so early in the film, because it’s easily the funniest bit and the sole reason the film gets two stars instead of one.

So, in a move that requires a hefty suspension of disbelief, Vitti is released into Ben’s custody while Ben attempts to integrate him into society by getting him a job. Mind you, the feds only go along with it because they figure they’ll stir up some tension between rival mob gangs, see? Added to this is the…er…’comedy’ of Ben grieving for his recently-deceased father and his wife Laura (Lisa ‘Phoebe’ Kudrow and her Comedy Shouting) growing less and less tolerant of having Vitti around.

The whole film is awash with poorly developed gags and situations that just don’t work. For example, Vitti gets a job as an on-set advisor on a Sopranos-like TV show (Anthony LaPaglia does good work as the lead actor with a thick Australian accent, but wisely leaves his name off the credits), which has comic potential but yields no actual laughs. (The Sopranos ‘D Girl’ episode was a lot funnier).

De Niro Coasting…Crystal Stalling

DeNiro, it has to be said, is a pretty good comic actor – it’s a treat to see his brief song-and-dance routine and you’re left wanting much more of that. That said, it’s still a pretty lazy performance on his part. Conversely, Crystal is obviously trying too hard, mugging and grimacing his way through the film so that you end up feeling rather sorry for him. As for the supporting cast, it’s great to see DeNiro reunited with Raging Bull co-star Cathy Moriarty, but she’s given much too little to do.

There are lots of reasons why the film doesn’t work, but the main ones boil down to a poor script, a complete lack of originality and the insistent repetition of lines and gags that just aren’t funny – Crystal’s frequent “I’m grieving – it’s a process” line being a case in point. Hell, even the out-takes at the end aren’t particularly funny, though it’s mildly amusing to see all the effort DeNiro puts in to one little masturbation gag.

To sum up, there is very little point in seeing this at the cinema and you’ll certainly regret spending upwards of seven quid on it. Wait for the video, when you can fast-forward to the bits where DeNiro sings and spare yourself the rest of it.

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Analyze That (15)
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Content updated: 18/11/2017 15:30

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