" For your information, my life is a living Hell "
— Elizabeth Hurley (as the devil), Bedazzled

MRQE Top Critic

The Great Train Robbery

(review...)

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Analyze This hit on a comic mixture that worked well: gangsters and therapists. It’s an odd, seemingly random mix of archetypes, but it works mostly because Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal are so good at their respective roles. As with any success in Hollywood, a sequel was sure to follow.

Hotel Catatonia

Crystal tries a new experimental therapy on De NiroRobert De Niro returns as Paul Vitti, now in prison. Someone is trying to have him killed. To protect his own life, he does the only logical thing: he fakes catatonia so that he can be released into the custody of his psychoanalyst, Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal reprising his role). Luckily the FBI agrees that this is a great idea, or else we’d have no story.

Ben is given custody of Paul, who comes to live with the Sobels. It would never be a good time to take Paul into their home, but now is especially bad because Ben is trying to grieve for the loss of his father. Playing host to a voracious mob caricature is a big distraction.

For his part, Paul makes a vain attempt to go straight, but selling cars and jewelry, and being a matire d’ just don’t work with his demanding personality. Paul is able to take a job as a consultant on a Sopranos-style TV show, but the job becomes just a cover. Paul returns to the only work he knows, planning a big heist with his former mobmates.

The movie forgets that this all started with someone trying to kill Paul, until the end when the film needs a resolution.

This N That

As with its predecessor, Analyze That is successful, almost entirely thanks to the efforts of Crystal and De Niro. Although the jokes are the same as in the last movie, it’s still nice to see these two stars having fun.

Without the stars, the movie would fall short. It’s just one set piece after another, held together by the most tenuous of threads. The story is only a platform for the jokes, and it has no value of its own. It’s worth mentioning because Harold Ramis has done much better. His Groundhog Day stands out as a comedy whose story and structure are inspired and meaningful.

Laugh Therapy

But most holiday moviegoers won’t be too worried about the story. Most will come to this movie for laugh therapy, a break from the shopping and crowds. I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed.