(Second viewing, On Cable TV, September 2018) I saw Analyze That in theatres during its first run, but somehow didn’t write any review of it since then. As oversights go, this is about as minor as the film actually is—as a sequel to the better-known Analyze This, it lazily reteams Billy Crystal with Robert de Niro as a psychoanalyst helping a mob boss deal with his repressed issues. This time, the dynamics are a bit different as de Niro’s character is out of jail and under Crystal’s custody in an attempt to flush out a mob rival. The film also gets slightly auto-referential in making the de Niro’s character become a consultant on an over-the-top mob TV series, which is good for a few inside jokes about the film industry. Still, much of the fun remains the same—Crystal playing his neurotic character against de Niro’s then-unusual mockery of his own persona. Given that de Niro has done little but keep going in that vein for the past fifteen years, that aspect of Analyze That has definitely lost some of its lustre. The film’s biggest problem, though, is that it’s immediately forgettable—I kept watching the film, occasionally doubting that I had, in fact, seen it until I got to the end and was reminded that “ends with a crane and a money-truck heist” was a correct recollection of the film (but not to be confused with Mickey Blue Eyes). It’s entertaining enough (de Niro’s self-mockery still feels more vital here than the copies-of-copies of the same parody he’s been doing since then) but don’t expect a magical experience. Or even to remember much of it moments later.
(Second viewing, On Cable TV, June 2018) I hadn’t seen City Slickers since the mid-nineties, and I had forgotten quite a bit about it—including what makes it so good. Beyond Jack Palance’s tough-cowboy performance (which led to an Oscar win and the infamous one-armed push-up acceptance speech that I saw on live TV) and Billy Crystal’s usual nebbish charm, City Slickers is built around a solid core of personal rediscovery, as well as an accompanying constellation of recurring gags, strong comic personalities playing off each other, and more throwaway gags than I remembered. Crystal is great, but the ensemble around him also works wonders at driving the film forward. Deftly playing with western archetypes and references (most specifically to Red River, which does make a good accompanying feature), it’s also a very nineties comedy film touching upon modern alienation and the value of manhood in a cerebral urban environment—seeing characters abruptly thrust into a different context is always good for a few laughs. The ending is a bit pat in the way it resorts to familiar action-movie theatrics as a shortcut to self-actualization, but that’s the way these things go: City Slickers is meant to entertain, not radically question our assumptions. It succeeds at what it tries to do.