Analyze That 

Genre: Odd Couple/Mob Comedy

Opens: In theaters now.

The Pitch: In the sequel to Analyze This, Robert De Niro's stressed-out mob boss, Paul Vitti, gets released into the custody of Billy Crystal's suburban shrink. Can Crystal get him out of the life of crime or will De Niro's mobbed-up buddies keep pulling him in?

Inside joke: All but admitting that "The Sopranos" does the gangster/shrink thing better, the film has Vitti consult for a suspiciously similar series called "Little Caesar."

Money shots: De Niro breaks into songs from West Side Story during a prison riot. Crystal finally snaps and gives a treacherous thug a beat-down. A drug-addled Crystal lisping at a sushi restaurant should be a highlight, but it just makes us want him whacked.

Cliches: Director Harold Ramis uses slow-motion for would-be big moments like a car crashing into the Hudson River or the arrival, a la Reservoir Dogs, of real wiseguys on the "Little Caesar" set.

Body count: One actual shooting, plus several fake hits on "Little Caesar." But the off-screen deaths of their fathers get Crystal and De Niro bonding and blubbering.

Fashion statements: Older mobsters wear tailored suits. Younger mobsters wear tracksuits. Crystal wears an apron reading "How Merlot can you go?" in a dinner scene.

Flesh factor: Some strip clubs seem like modest versions of the "Bada Bing," and at one point a flustered Crystal tries to put pocket change in a stripper's G-string.

Worst line: "I'm grieving, it's a process," which Crystal keeps saying as if repetition makes it funny. It doesn't.

Stay through closing credits?: We see plenty of outtakes of Crystal and De Niro flubbing lines and cracking up, if you like that sort of thing.

Better than the original?: No. The first had its share of harmless laughs, but the follow-up is like beating a dead horse -- then putting its head in somebody's bed. Plus it leaves things wide open for another unwelcome sequel, no doubt to be called Analyze The Other.

The Bottom Line: Playing the goofy goodfella, De Niro still has fun lampooning his own tough guy image. But Lisa Kudrow is again wasted as Crystal's wife, and the potential for spoofing "The Sopranos" gets no pay-off. At least it's less painful than Hugh Grant's mob comedy Mickey Blue Eyes.


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