Analyze That

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Analyze That

The kind of film that happens when checks hit designer wallets, Analyze That picks up where its predecessor left off: at a logical endpoint requiring no sequel. A brisk, warmly directed Harold Ramis comedy that allowed Robert De Niro to exercise previously unseen comic chops as an anxious mob boss, and Billy Crystal to be funnier than he had been in years as De Niro's reluctant psychiatrist, 1999's Analyze This made hay of its premise without turning its characters into cartoons. All the principals—except, significantly, screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan—reprised their roles for the sequel, and all seem confused as to why they returned. (In one telling blooper included before the closing credits, Lisa Kudrow even forgets her character's name.) Now jailed, a repentant De Niro survives an attempt to kill him, fakes catatonia, and is remanded to Crystal's custody. Once there, he upsets Crystal's life with wife Kudrow, tries to find a straight job, and generally engages in shenanigans of the broadest kind before becoming an advisor to a Sopranos-like show starring Anthony LaPaglia. That's one of the few inspired ideas in Analyze That, but aside from the way LaPaglia switches from Bronxese to his character's (and his own) Australian accent the moment the camera stops rolling, the film doesn't know how to exploit it. It does, however, know how to interrupt the procession of dead gags with gunfire, though the eventual overlong, joke-free climactic heist sequence comes almost as a relief. Whatever chemistry Crystal and De Niro evidenced in Analyze This has dissipated in the intervening years: Crystal has rediscovered the art of mugging for the camera, while De Niro, who previously offered a fully conceived character, makes a caricature of his past mobster roles. Crystal has suggested that a third installment could be called Analyze The Other Thing, but the natural length for this couch session ended a while ago.

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