A review of “Analyze That” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ** 1/2

Rating: R for language and sexual content

Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

 

 

Robert DeNiro must be the most overexposed actor in the business – tackling drama and comedy on an alarming growth curve.  Exploiting the success of his mega-hit “Analyze This” (1999), DeNiro and funnyman sidekick Billy Crystal take to the streets of Jersey for another round of doctor-patient mischief.

DeNiro is Paul Vitti, a local mob figure several cards shy of a full deck who needs a little guidance in the anxiety department.  After repeated attempts on his life during a prolonged stay at Sing Sing, Vitti fugues into a semi-catatonic stupor.  Enter neurotic psychotherapist Ben Sobel, called in to consult on the case.

Based on Sobel’s diagnosis, Vitti is granted a conditional release – straight into the custody of the reluctant Sobel.  Therein lies the joke, all 95 minutes of it.  Under Sobel’s watchful tutelage, Vitti re-enters the job market, with disastrous (and sometimes hilarious) results.  But while Sobel is working on Vitti’s psyche, Vitti is working on an underworld conspiracy that spells Big Trouble.

DeNiro and Crystal are a solid comic duo, comfortable with each others’ shtick and smoothly delivering their farcical material (co-written by director Harold Ramis).  Full of sharps and flats, the gags range from the distinctly unfunny to richly side-splitting, and everything in between.  The boozy Japanese restaurant scene is a classic, while DeNiro dottily warbling show tunes from “West Side Story” is flat-out embarrassing.

Stay for the outtakes – an extended sequence of laughs guaranteed to please.