Don't Analyze It

A sequel that reaches the depths of Hollywood.

Most films that make it to wide release have some redeeming quality. Crappy action films usually still have a few good action sequences, schmaltzy Spielberg dramas are at least well put together, and low-brow comedies generally have a few yucks to make up for the poop sequences. On those rare occasions when a truly bad film makes it out of the stable, there's at least some chance that the acting, directing and editing are kitschy enough to be amusing, as was the case with, say Planet of the Apes or Fear Dot Com.

What's truly unusual, then, is to find a film that is utterly impossible to enjoy on any level whatsoever. If you're looking to see such a movie, run, do not walk, to the nearest cinema that is playing Analyze That. I'm guessing you'll only have a few minutes to do so before reason prevails and this film is pulled from the theaters, the reels burned in a holy bonfire, and the ashes stirred briskly and scattered to the four winds so that we may never be haunted by its presence again.

How this turkey escaped from the Thanksgiving slaughter is completely beyond me. It's so bad that the hair stylist, caterer, and best boy all listed their names as "prefer not to say."

This shouldn't have been. For all its failings, the original Analyze This was at least a passable entertainment, with a plot and jokes and stuff. You know, the kind of things one expects to see in a comedy.

And writer/director Harold Ramis returned for this sequel, which seemed like a good sign. Not everything Ramis does is gold, but he has made some fine films, including Groundhog Day, which is now being accepted as a classic, and Stuart Saves His Family, which should be.

But Analyze That is so relentlessly awful that I had to be strapped into my theater seat, with my hands cuffed to the armrests, just to keep me from tearing my eyes and ears out so that I wouldn't have to suffer through another minute of it.

At this point in the review I would usually begin to summarize the plot. Analyze That makes my job especially hard by not actually having a plot. There's some insane contrivance wherein the FBI demands that jailed gangster Paul Vitti (Robert DeNiro) be released into the custody of psychiatrist Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal). Because that's what the FBI does, apparently: arrange for the release of dangerous mass-murderers into the hands of neurotic suburban shrinks.

The FBI tells Sobol that if he refuses, he'll be arrested. Apparently, it's a felony to refuse to welcome a gangster into your home. (This may seem far-fetched, but it's actually part of the new Homeland Security Act, I swear to God.)

I'd like to give the Academy Award for Extreme Cynicism to the writer who thought up this plot twist, because he must have assumed that the American public will buy virtually anything, as long as it involves getting two stars together for a sequel.

But then again, who needs a plot, as long as you've got lots of laughs to carry you through a film, right? I counted exactly one laugh during the gruelingly long 95-minute run-time of this film. That's fewer laughs per minute than you would encounter in a Stalinist gulag.

And it wasn't even a hearty guffaw. It was more like a polite, "o, sure, that was amusing," sort of laugh. In 95 minutes. In a comedy.

I feel obliged here to list the writers by name, so that you may send them condolence cards for the deaths of their senses of humor. They are: Harold Ramis, who has been funny in the past, but I guess that's all behind him now; Peter Steinfeld, who has done nothing of note and now has done one thing of no note whatsoever; and Peter Tolan, who is actually evil enough to have worked on the television series Home Improvement.

I mean, they hired a guy who worked on Home Improvement to write a comedy. What kind of monsters are running Hollywood these days? Are they planning to cast Phyllis Diller as a lifeguard in the new Baywatch movie? Is Pauly Shore going to host Meet The Press? Has all reason run amok, and is the world devoid of sense and purpose?

I rant, but really, you didn't have to watch this. And if you did, my apologies. The time and dignity we lost in viewing this dog, well, that's gone forever.