The sequel to the modest 1999 hit Analyze This, Analyze That reunites Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal for yet another round of Mafia comedy. Like its predecessor, this movie is an uninspired excuse to have two talented actors play caricatures for which they are famous, then have them switch roles for a few laughs.
As the story opens, we find mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) still serving time in the big house. When it becomes clear that someone is trying to put the kibosh him, he seems to have a mental breakdown, alternating between periods of catatonic silence and rousing renditions of West Side Story songs. Vitti's former psychotherapist, Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), is called in to evaluate the rattled inmate and concludes that he is suffering from temporary insanity. Vitti is released into Sobel's custody for treatment, but quickly returns to his criminal roots--in no time, he's in the middle of a feud between the Families and bringing his reluctant shrink along for the wacky ride.
As with most mainstream comedies from Hollywood, Analyze That has its moments. De Niro's cock of the walk attitude is entertaining when it gets crass, and Crystal doing Al Pacino's patented "Hoo-wah!" is hilarious (all two seconds of it). But for the most part, this beast is a one-trick pony rehashing the same material from Analyze This: take a tough mobster and a wimpy therapist, then switch their demeanors and see how funny it is when the mobster gets in touch with his inner child and the therapist gets in touch with his inner thug. Ha-friggen-ha. This whole premise gets old quickly, and yet we have two full length De Niro/Crystal movies dedicated to it. And as if these characters aren't stale enough, here comes Lisa Kudrow as Sobel's wife, playing Phoebe yet again. Of all the cast of Friends, she definitely has the widest acting range. ...Not!
Many of the scenes in this sequel have simply been repeated from the original. Crystal's restaurant antics as he chows down on food that's new to him, his living room sit-down with the law, and his fumbling with firearms are all familiar moments. And De Niro's routine of playfully reprimanding Crystal with, "You...you're good, you!" is totally played out. To quote one of Vitti's more eloquent bits of wisdom: "Hey, you know, it's like I didn't hear you like the tenth f***in' time? Huh? You wanna tell me ten more times? Jesus!"
There's less crying in this installment of the Bobby/Billy mob circus, but still too many moments of touchy-feely, psychological garbage. Sobel scavenges around in Vitti's mind and once again drudges up issues about his father that are far too sentimental. And the ending is a jumbled mess that goes to great lengths to squeeze out a cheesy happily ever after.
Analyze That is a mediocre sequel to a mediocre movie, only worth your time if you haven't yet dosed out on the one-joke premise of made men being made into clowns.
Rating: 5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)