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Analyze That

With a gross of $106 million for stars Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal (along with director Harold Ramis), it was inevitable that 1999's Analyze This would spawn a sequel — any follow-up would practically be guaranteed to make money, and since '99 De Niro has been getting cash on the barrelhead by leveraging his well-known persona in high-profile comedies. And while no one doubts the talents of Mssrs. Crystal or Ramis, one has do ask — did they really have anything better to do with their time? Thus, Analyze That (2002) — which fails to generate any genuine, amusing spark from first reel to last — isn't as frustrating as it's simply a bit sad. De Niro returns as mob boss Paul Vitti, now imprisoned and serving out his time. However, when an assassination attempt in the joint fails, Paul plays goofy and gets himself released by the FBI into the custody of his former psychiatrist, Dr. Ben Sobel (Crystal). Of course, the boss isn't nuts — despite the fact that he's taken to singing the entire score of West Side Story — and the Feds aren't fooled. Something big is going down in Gotham, and they figure Vitti is more use to them on the street, where they can monitor his activities and see where he fits in the game. Vitti soon finds himself between competing Mafia interests — Lou 'The Wrench' Rigazzi (Frank Gio) and Patti LoPresti (Cathy Moriarity) both want to adopt his estimable influence for their own purposes. What follows in Analyze That is a flat, fairly monotone affair, as Ben has near-hysterical reactions to Paul's ceaseless need to be a mob chieftain rather than a psychiatric patient. There is one superb idea — Paul gets a job as a technical advisor on a Sopranos-esqe TV show — but it amounts to little with a stereotypical British director and a non-Italian star (an unaccredited Anthony LaPaglia, sporting his Aussie accent). Crystal gets his hands on a good bit in a Japanese restaurant, slurring like a dental patient during his meal after taking too many herbal pills. There's one in-joke at Al Pacino's expense, and a reference to De Palma's The Untouchables. And it is pleasant to see De Niro reunited with his Raging Bull co-star Moriarity in a few scenes. But for the most part, Analyze That is a series of vignettes wherein Ben gets angry with Paul, and then Ben's wife Laura (Lisa Kudrow) gets angry with him. It all wraps up with a gold heist, and Ben as an unwitting accomplice. But for all its attempts at zany hijinks, Analyze That feels like little more like a series of chronic communication breakdowns. Warner's DVD release offers widescreen (1.85:1) and full-frame transfers on separate editions with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Features include a commentary from director Ramis, a "making-of" featurette, an interactive trivia game, cast and crew notes, and the theatrical trailer. Snap-case.

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