Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal re-unite in the sequel to hit comedy Analyze This. Though little has changed (De Niro is still the paranoid gangster and Crystal his equally neurotic psychotherapist), new twists and turns make the sequel worth a watch. Who wouldn't enjoy seeing reformed mafia boss-turned-car-salesman-and-maitre-d' De Niro perform West Side Story tunes in the slammer? Friends star Lisa Kudrow and Frasier bit-parter Anthony LaPaglia spice up the cast.
Robert De Niro
You must have been out of your mind if you thought Crystal and De Niro's surprise 1999 success wasn't going to flare up again as a clinical case of sequel-itis.
"I think there's nothing worse than doing a sequel just to exploit a franchise," says director Ramis. Well, he would, wouldn't he?
Anyway, he valiantly held out "until we had an idea and a storyline that felt as valid as the first one".
So here it is and little has changed. Stressed-out mobster Paul Vitti (De Niro) is nearing the end of a long stretch in the slammer... but starts acting strangely.
Aptly, for a prison called Sing Sing, he begins launching into songs from West Side Story and soon finds himself in a padded cell.
Nervy psychotherapist Ben Sobel (Crystal) is called in to determine whether former client Vitti is under strain from death threats or just feigning illness to get sprung early.
The FBI, on the other hand, want him out to spark warfare between two mafia families who have flourished in his absence.
Unfortunately for Sobel, Vitti is granted conditional release... into the custody of the reluctant shrink and his family.
The chief joy here is the interplay between the streetwise gangster, who has an IQ "just north of a bedroom slipper", and the suburban therapist, who veers increasingly into cut-price Woody Allen territory.
Vitti is given a series of white collar jobs such as maitre d'hotel, jeweller's assistant and car salesman, where he dissuades a couple from buying a Japanese Lexus with the admonition "don't forget Pearl Harbor".
However, the further things stray from the dynamic between the principal players, the more run-of-the-mill the narrative gets.
Kudrow is under-used as Sobel's wife, while Anthony LaPaglia elicits a few laughs as an Oz actor taking gangster lessons from Vitti.
It'll appeal to those who liked the first one... but to others it doesn't bear close analysis.