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"Analyze That"

Directed by Harold Ramis.
Written by Peter Steinfeld, Peter Tolan, and Harold Ramis.
Starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  12/8/02

Folks--

It was Friday night, and I was kind of tired, so my buddy Toby and I went over to the multiplex to catch a mainstreamer.  Our options were “Empire”—the new John Leguizamo urban drama—or “Analyze That.”  I let Toby pick since he was working off a more vital schedule and he picked the latter.

“Analyze That” is probably the only perfect Matinee-rated film I have seen this year.  It is absolutely average.  Using characters from the first film, “Analyze This”, the sequel adds absolutely nothing to these pre-established entities.  Billy Crystal is back again as Dr. Ben Sobel, the Jewish psychiatrist that got mixed up with gangster Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) in the first film.  There is some sort of plot revolving around Vitti’s attempt to get out of prison because someone is trying to kill him, and to get out he fakes a case of loco-sitis and has to find a regular job to keep himself out of trouble for 30 days until his parole hearing, time that he uses to find the killer.  Vitti comes under Sobel’s home care, hijinks ensue, blah blah blah.

The movie has some pretty funny scenes every so often, and De Niro is once again very good with this character.  Crystal is useless and about 30% of his lines are this exact phrase:  “Grieving—It’s a process.”  Crystal hasn’t worked much since the 1999 original—and, only once onscreen, in “America’s Sweethearts”—and he doesn’t seem to be that interested in working here, as he dials in a performance that even as written doesn’t have him doing much to drive the weak plotline.  Lisa Kudrow should have said no to this film, since she has only a handful of scenes and adds nothing to her thin film portfolio (“Lucky Numbers”??  “Clockwatchers”??).  So, it is just De Niro here, and he works well with the little that he is given, including a chance to work as a consultant on a “Sopranos”-style cable TV drama called “Little Caesar” or to play Vitti as a stubborn Italian trying to work in the confines of the American 9-to-5 work day.  Early on, as Vitti tries to convince us that he has gone looney, there are some great scenes with Vitti trying to finish some psychological testing exercises.  The best scene in “Analyze That”—where Vitti keeps having flashes of criminal activity while trying to sell diamonds in a jewelry store—is very funny, but not very memorable...as I sit here now trying to even remember why I was laughing so hard at the scene, I can’t remember what exactly was happening in those flashes.  (And, my roommate Jon and I agree:  the hook from the original film, where Vitti is always saying to Sobel “Youuuuu...You’re good, you” is bad to the point of being annoying in the sequel.  It just doesn’t work here, and now I wonder why I thought that was funny in the original?  It felt really, really forced in the sequel.)

The film’s payoff isn’t very interesting.  The supporting characters in the Mob, led by Joe Viterelli as Jelly, have the look down but almost no personality.  There are times when this film seems undirected, and my thought was that director Harold Ramis (“Caddyshack”, “Groundhog Day”) probably just dialed it in here as he was on the way to the bank to collect a large paycheck.  The film looks like it was shot by union professionals who were very nice people and could do a serviceable job with just about any kind of material, but there is almost no creativity in the sets or the look of the film at all.  The score is stock and the locales are, too—it’s basically New York City 101 at times.

But, the film is funny enough to make you think you didn’t waste any money.  You also don’t have to be burdened by worrying that you learned anything, because you didn’t.  And, best of all, you will almost totally forget that you saw the film this weekend because “Analyze That” is so average.  With so many things going on in your life right now into the holiday season, what more can you ask for?

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09