Now That’s a bad sequel

The teaser trailer for Analyze That was possibly the best of the season — good enough to make some movie fans think that the film might be one of those rare sequel gems.

The first one, Analyze This, had just the right amount of cleverness. They couldn’t go wrong with bringing back Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro, could they?

De Niro and Crystal are barely on the job in Analyze That. While De Niro exceeds his comedic limits with a few over-the-top physical gags, Crystal is borderline annoying in his second turn as the frenetic therapist. Neither gives the impression of being all that interested in his role. De Niro perhaps can be forgiven for stepping out of bounds in a few scenes. At least he’s trying to push himself as a funny guy. Crystal, on the other hand, brings nothing new to the table.

And let’s not even get started on Lisa Kudrow. It is almost unimaginable that anyone in this country still finds her schtick funny. The Phoebe in her is slightly subdued in Analyze That, but the delivery is the same: indignant nervousness.

Plotwise, the first third of the sequel is bogged down in getting Paul Vitti (De Niro) out of jail, where we last saw him in Analyze This. Aside from a few rather amusing scenes in which Paul performs bits of West Side Story (including “I Feel Pretty”) to convince the system that he’s crazy, there’s not much of worth in the early scenes. But to their credit, there’s not much of worth in the rest of the movie, either.

Once Vitti is deemed certifiable, the powers that be decide to release him to the custody of his former psychiatrist, Ben (Crystal). But the district attorney isn’t as dumb as he first seems. His plan, as revealed to the audience, is to let Vitti incite the already volatile mafia war to the point that they just kill themselves all off. Brilliant.

Meanwhile, Ben wrangles with the recent death of his father and nearly collapses under the added pressure of having to steer Vitti to the greener pastures of legitimate work.

Nonetheless, there is little doubt that Analyze That will draw a crowd at the box office.

The way Hollywood abuses its audiences is almost depressing. For every movie fan who has ever whined about a stale movie or an abominable sequel, the fact remains that the only reason these movies continue to be made is that we keep paying to see them.

So, Analyze That will turn a profit, and it’s more than likely that Warner Brothers will opt for a third installment.

Let’s all hope they don’t dupe us with another clever teaser.

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‘Analyze That’ is rated R and opens Friday.