ANALYZE THAT: DVD
As New York Mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) nears the end of his sentence in Sing Sing, he baffles FBI agents monitoring him by walking around his cell in a semi-catatonic state, singing songs from West Side Story. The FBI isn’t sure whether this is a ploy for an early release or whether the former crim has just cracked up. Nor is his former psychotherapist Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), who is called in for an opinion. But Sobel is going through his own identity crisis following the death of his father, and is dismayed when Vitti is released conditionally into his custody, knowing that his wife Laura (Lisa Kudrow) will be fuming to learn that they have a house guest.
Review by Louise Keller:
Although Analyze That never delivers the kind of magic of its predecessor Analyze This, the DVD offers not only a good insight into the making of the film, but also invites you to take a test to see if you’re ready to ‘join the family business.’ It’s a cute idea, asking that you correctly identify different ink blots, partake in some word associations and define meanings of words like ‘button man’, ‘whacked’ and other such words. Lovers of trivia will be interested in writer/director Sam Ramis’ commentary that gives plenty of detail about the shoot, the locations and the actors. He gives the rationale behind the script and the action and tells how he gets to act off camera with Robert DeNiro. (His is the voice on the other end of the phone when DeNiro calls Billy Crystal during his father’s funeral.) De Niro and Crystal both talk about the experience and how they love working together. ‘We have a good synchronization’ says DeNiro ‘we work off each other rhythmically – like musicians.’ Ramis admits that he sees himself as the psychiatrist on the set and that the film’s tensions come from the differences between the two actors.
The film is basically a series of sketches slung together: a case of jokes, contrived sentiments and slapstick that could use a facelift. That wonderful notion to cast De Niro and Crystal as mobster and shrink in the original was a breath of fresh air, but the writers have much to answer for here.
The trouble is that we don’t believe any of it. It’s simply Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal goofing around with some bad lines, vulgarities and poorly judged false sentiments. It starts well enough with some funny situations and plenty of promise. Heck, there’s even a musical segment set in Sing Sing, and the scene when Crystal’s shrink barks like a dog, pokes and prods De Niro’s catatonic face is funny in anyone’s language. (It certainly sets up the out-takes when the credits roll, when De Niro’s stony, unresponsive features crack up.) Lisa Kudrow is terrific in the early scenes, with her dry delivery and offbeat timing, but even Kudrow loses her shine in the second half. De Niro and Crystal both have their moments, but De Niro is very inconsistent, and Crystal badly misjudges the restaurant scene when manipulating his mouth with chopsticks and thick, white noodles hang out of his mouth like a tubular waterfall. Joe Viterelli, whose Mob right hand man was so integral to the plot in the first film, has unfortunately been relegated to being a superfluous appendage, while Anthony LaPaglia’s role as the star of a television series about mobsters is extremely poorly directed. The idea of bringing the real mobsters to the tv set is inspired, but there’s no pay off – so don’t analyze this one too much. This is the DVD for those undemanding ‘chill-out’ moments.
Published July 3, 2003
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ANALYZE THAT: DVD (M)
CAST: Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow, Joe Viterelli, Cathy Moriarty
DIRECTOR: Harold Ramis
SCRIPT: Peter Steinfeld, Harold Ramis, Peter Tolan
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16 x 9; DD 5.1
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary, HBO First Look First; Theatrical trailer; M.A.D.E. DVD Rom Game
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: July 2, 2003