Analyze That

| December 7, 2002

So Hank, what did you think of Analyze That?
I think watching this movie is a process. Just like that one running joke I just stole from the movie. Follow ups are extremely hard to make work. It’s like the thought of having to see a sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Or worse yet, a TV show made with the same premise.
Sometimes, you should just leave well enough alone. Analyze That was an OK movie, but it was not as funny as the first and left me… a little depressed.
How did that make you feel?
Hey, I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to make me say something against Director Harold Ramis. I loved his other directing performances in Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, and Bedazzled. You’re not going to get me to say that this wasn’t one of his best. Even if that’s the truth.
Why? Does the truth hurt?
Well, yea. But I don’t think it was entirely his fault. I mean, Billy Crystal did Executive Produce the film. He could have plugged some of the holes in the plot.
What’s the plot? Tell me the story of the film.
It’s three years later and mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro from Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) is about to get go up for parole. He has reason to believe that someone does not want him to get out and trying to have him killed. He fakes insanity to get out of prison early.
You can get out of prison if you become insane?
Well, here’s the thing. The premise is just a bit screwy. When Vitti starts acting like he is two bananas short of a bunch, they bring in his old shrink Dr. Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal from When Harry Met Sally) to analyze him. Unfortunately, that is the funniest part of the movie.
Anyway, Vitti passes the standard nutso test, but Sobol thinks he is faking.
Evidently so does the FBI because they let Vitti out into Sobol’s care so they can catch more bad guys. If you don’t buy into the beginning, it takes away from the rest of the movie. Guess I didn’t buy in enough because there were lots of folk in the audience who laughed more than I did so I’m going to give this movie a straight up and down MAYBE on the “Will I like it?” scale.
What happens when Vitti gets out?
Oh, I see YOU bought into the premise. Vitti knows that there is some jockeying for position in the mob world and that must be why both competing family heads want him dead. He can upset their plays for power.
By getting out of jail, he can try and convince them that he has given up “the life” and get on with his. We see him go through a series of straight jobs that he uses for “cover” as he executes his plan to gain his freedom. The point of this is made clear at the end, but I really feel that this movie is a series of loosely strung together plot points to surround the one-liners about the mob.
You’re going back to the holes thing, aren’t you?
Hey, that’s my right. I paid for the damn movie. Is it too much to ask for the writers, directors, and producers to get together and stop playing to the lowest common denominator? If they would just ask themselves “Would that really happen?” a few times the story would be stronger. Maybe they wouldn’t have made this one.
Fine. You win. It’s a Swiss cheese of a movie. What about the acting?
Did that help?
Thankfully, it did. Crystal and De Niro are excellent together. And they have help from Joe Vitrelli (from EVERY friggin’ mob movie since 1990) as Jelly. He adds a lot to the movie. What takes away from the movie is Lisa Kudrow. She is waaaaaaay too young to be in this role. I mean, c’mon, Billy, your name isn’t Michael Douglas. The kid that played their son (sorry, could not find his name) is excellent, though. You know, they did not use the same actor for the son, they could have changed the wife, too… Or not.
Anything else?
What do you want from me? I’m just the critic. And some would say I’m not very good at that. But that’s for another session.

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