The mayhem begins when Mafia boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) is released from prison into the custody of his nerve-rattled psychotherapist, Dr. Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal). Meanwhile, the Feds are tracking Vitti, hoping that he will unwittingly lead them to the criminal underworld; a "Sopranos"-style TV show wants Vitti to be creative consultant; and two rival mob families want him dead. Poor Dr. Sobol is dragged through this chaos with a warning from the Feds that if his mobster patient escapes, aiding and abetting charges will be filed.
The theme of opposite characters brought together in a humorous adventure full of bickering is a formula Hollywood has worked and re-worked very well. Problems often occur when a sequel is made from one of these hits. Usually moviegoers are served a second dish of bickering which by then has become tired. The smart trick scripters Peter Steinfeld, Harold Ramis and Peter Tolan pull is to make the two characters unlikely friends, bridging the gulf separating Vitti and Dr. Sobol by a shared sadness over the loss of their fathers. At one point, Dr. Sobol defends his aiding of Vitti to his wife Laura (the regrettably under-used Lisa Kudrow). Later, Vitti comes to Dr. Sobol's aid when angry mobsters catch him spying on their secret plans. Vitti tells his cohorts that Dr. Sobol is his responsibility. These scenes engender a feel-good sense of camaraderie and loyalty amidst all the antics.
The appeal of "Analyze That" can be credited in large part to the infectious fun found in the performances of Crystal and De Niro. Director Harold Ramis skillfully paces everything so that any scenes that do lag don't lag for long. Fans of "Analyze This" should be satisfied; fans of Billy Crystal should be very satisfied and fans of Robert De Niro comedies should be thrilled. Starring Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal and Lisa Kudrow. Directed by Harold Ramis. Written by Peter Steinfeld, Harold Ramis and Peter Tolan. Produced by Jane Rosenthal and Paula Weinstein. A Warner Bros release. Comedy. Rated R for language and some sexual content. Running time: 95 min