Back in 1999, comedy was a tough sell for De Niro. ”I spent two years getting him to do [‘Analyze This’],” says Crystal. ”Script readings, rewrites. ‘Do it, do it. You?re funny. You gotta wink at yourself. If they see you cry, they?re gonna laugh.”’ Boy, was he right. ”Analyze This” and 2000?s ”Meet the Parents” grossed a combined $273 million domestically, becoming De Niro?s two most successful films. ”Now all he wants is to do funny,” Crystal says. ”If they do a ‘Married…With Children’ movie, he?s going to do it.”
This time, it was De Niro, returning as conflicted Mob boss Paul Vitti, who had to persuade Crystal to take him on as a patient again. ”The movie ended right — it felt complete to me,” Crystal says of ”Analyze This,” which concluded with Vitti landing in jail and Crystal?s Dr. Ben Sobel getting married. ”That?s why there hasn?t been a ‘When Harry Met Sally…’ sequel.” But Crystal found ”Analyze That”’s plot hook too priceless to pass up: Upon his release from prison, Vitti takes a job as a consultant on a ”Sopranos”-esque TV series called ”Little Caesar.” And here?s a stretch: LaPaglia, an Australian who?s made a career out of playing Italian Americans, appears as Anthony Bella, an Australian actor playing the lead role of Nicky Caesar. ”When De Niro?s character first hears him talk, he says, ‘Hey! You?re an English guy!”’ says Ramis. ”He says, ?No, I?m Australian. We?ve got a lot of paesans down under.? And De Niro says, ‘Down under what?”’ (Irony alert: In real life, LaPaglia was an early candidate for the role of Tony Soprano.)
But the question remains, after ”Analyze That,” will this franchise sleep with the fishes? Ramis says he?s had enough. ”Michael Keaton once said to me that he had two careers: He had all the stuff he liked doing and he had ‘Batman,”’ he says. ”These franchises may be great for making money, but they don?t necessarily help you grow creatively.” Crystal, however, says he?s up for a third session. After ”This” and ”That,” he?s even come up with the perfect title: ”Analyze the Other Thing.”
THE LOWDOWN If response to the teaser trailer is any indication, De Niro and Crystal should achieve another big breakthrough.