Analyze That

Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro deserve better. In a follow up attempt to the 1998 hot “Analyze This,” the duo returns to the streets of New York without much of the wit and drama that made the original film a success.

As the film begins, we rejoin mafia boss Paul Vitti (De Niro) and Dr. Ben Sobel (Crystal) as the mobster is about to regain his freedom from Sing Sing Federal Penitentiary. There is only one problem: Vitti has seemingly lost his mind. He spends hours at a time pacing his cell and singing tunes from “West Side Story.” The Feds aren’t sure what to do with him, and after some careful testing; they call on Dr. Sobel, whose father has just passed away, to release Vitti into his custody. It is up to Dr. Sobel to help Mr. Vitti return to normalcy and become a contributing member of society.
This however is not an easy thing to do for a man who is used to giving orders instead of taking them. Through a string of ‘normal’ jobs, Vitti wanders his way through a handful of predictable tough guy one-liners, none of which really hits the mark leaving one left wanting more.

Another constant and predictable reference in the film is made to the hit HBO series “The Sopranos.” Such as Vitti being hired as a creative consultant to the fictitious drama “Little Caesar,” [no, not the pizza] and soon he has replaced other members of the cast and crew with his own former cronies. As life begins to imitate art, the motley crew is soon pilfering the set and bringing several luxurious items to the boss’ trailer to make him feel more comfortable.

Despite the shortcomings “Analyze That” is not without humor. There are signs of brilliance and chemistry between Crystal and DeNiro, but unfortunately, they are too few and far between. One scene, where the selfish and thoughtless Vitti wanders through a Sobel family gathering wearing only a bathrobe is one such gem, but makes one wonder what could have been had more time and effort been spent on the script.

Thin on plot [could it be that the mob boss can’t help but return to his old ways?] The film meanders to an unlikely climax, and leaves us thinking of the original. Crystal and De Niro. …Together in the same film? “It’s got to be good,” you think to yourself. But then you remember the first one. Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro deserve better.

2out of 5 stars