In 1999, the critically acclaimed and Golden-globe nominated picture Analyze This added a whole new dimension to the gangster film genre: the anxiety-attack prone mafia boss in dire need of psychological help. Moviegoers agreed that this story of the journey of mobster Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) towards mental stability, aided by his reluctant psychiatrist Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), was an innovative comedic undertaking which put its then-unknown production companies on the map of Hollywood fame.
Can they do it again?
Producers Paula Weinstein and Jane Rosenthal seem to think so. Assembling much of the same crew that worked on Analyze This, the makers of the sequel, Analyze That, hope to create a new film with a similar premise that doesn’t entirely repeat itself.
This time, the now-incarcerated gangster Paul Vitti fakes insanity to get himself released from jail and into the custody of Ben Sobel. Sobel, of course, has problems of his own to contend with, including the recent death of his father. Putting the two together again can only mean trouble. And, of course, a great premise for a sequel.
How is That different from This? Like many a reformed gangster, Vitti wants to go legit. With the help of Sobel, he tries his hand at various jobs, as a car salesman (“Look at the size of that trunk. You could put three bodies in there”), a jewelry store employee, and as a “technical advisor” on a new gangster movie. Needless to say, these attempts at legitimacy don’t work out as planned. Sobel’s wife Laura (Lisa Kudrow) doesn’t feel particularly hospitable towards mobsters either, and so Sobel’s life is once again thrown into utter chaos.
Analyze That has the potential to be, like its predecessor, another great movie, but may also fall into the trap of being too much like it. It does, however, seem to give its characters greater depth, as revealed to the audience through the parallel between Vitti’s change in identity and Sobel’s search for his own in the face of his father’s death. These innovations, if effective, might just be enough to make Analyze That a movie you can’t refuse.