NOT FUNNY. But then neither was "Analyze This." At least Billy Crystal was funny in that and Robert De Niro had his moments. In this even lamer sequel neither of them make you laugh-out-loud. Blame it on a lazy script, blame it on the curse of sequels or just blame it on De Niro. Tired of playing intense characters, De Niro wanted to do comedy. He wanted to play popular, funny characters. Good career move - he got parts in several mainstream movies - but a disaster for American Method acting. Comedy has given De Niro the licence to mug away. All the mannered acting and the ticks he picked up from playing psychos in the Scorsese movies are magnified in these comic roles. In his new avatar, he looks exaggeratedly smug all the time, with the corners of his mouth perpetually turned down in a frown.
He was funny in just one movie - "Meet The Parents". And that was more because of a really good script and his really funny co-star, Ben Stiller. Even in "Analyze This" it was Crystal who was the funny one. De Niro's character on the other hand, a mobster with a nervous breakdown who bullies his shrink - felt obnoxious. For the first half hour or so, "Analyze That," directed by Harold Ramis, keeps the laughs coming and then falls flat. When the film opens we find De Niro in prison, desperate to get out. This time he pretends to be crazy and asks to be released and handed over to his shrink, Billy Crystal. And that's how patient and shrink are reunited. The conceit of the both these movies - a neurotic send-up of all the serious gangsters De Niro has played in his career (from "Godfather II" to "The Untouchbles" to "Good Fellas" to "Casino") - is one that has never appealed to me. It takes away from the romance of say, De Niro's Vito Corleone, a great, unforgettable character and replaces it with a joke. If it wasn't clear the first time, it is crystal clear in the sequel: the joke has backfired.
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