Analyze That (review)

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When actors have only their own amusement in mind, it’s sometimes still amusing for us to eavesdrop on their fun. Watching Billy Crystal trying to crack up Robert DeNiro — and DeNiro just about letting him do it — is only sporadically diverting in Analyze That because that’s just about all they’re interesting in doing. Picking up pretty much where Analyze This left off, mob boss Paul Vitti (DeNiro: City by the Sea) is not settling well into prison life — rival mobsters are trying to kill him, and so he fakes insanity to get out early. Enter his unwilling shrink, Dr. Ben Sobol (Crystal: Monsters, Inc.), forced to take custody of Vitti and spruce him up for parole. Analyze This was funny — outrageously funny — because it treated its clashing worlds with respect: the mob stuff was, heh, dead serious, and the concepts of psychotherapy it espoused were genuine, and it could be played deadpan because the humor sprang from the impossibility of reconciling the philosophies of these arenas. Now? Bah. Paul Vitti might fake insanity, but he’d never be reduced to singing tunes from West Side Story to do it. The mob would never leave the running of a family organization to a woman, not even way-cool Cathy Moriarty (Cop Land). Would a real shrink take one of his own patients into his home? I doubt it. The only moments in which the sequel comes alive is on the set of Little Caesar, a Sopranos spoof starring an actor who looks an awful lot like the wonderful Anthony LaPaglia (The House of Mirth)… and if you know that LaPaglia hails from someplace far from Brooklyn, then you already know why his turn is very funny indeed.

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