"Yesterday They Were Businessmen. Today
They're Cowboys. Tomorrow They'll Be Walking Funny."
Summary: In City Slickers three friends, Mitch
Robbins (Billy Crystal), Phil Berquist (Daniel Stern), and Ed
Furillo (Bruno Kirby), all coping with personal problems, embark
on a journey to the Wild West, to partake in a cattle drive in
hopes of curing their various depressions - over becoming older
and finding the meaning of life, facing a messy divorce, and having
mixed feelings over women & marriage. Crystal was about to
turn forty, Stern was caught in an affair, and lost everything,
and Kirby was having mixed feelings about whether to marry his
girlfriend or not.
The always entertaining Billy Crystal, gifted
with a terrific sense of humor and delivery, starts the fun when
he inadvertently gets off on the wrong foot with Curly (Jack Palance),
who brings the true western feel to the film as an old leathery,
trail boss cowboy. It would have been nice to have him in just
a few more scenes as he left such a vivid impression due to his
excellent portrayal of his character, which won Palance the best
supporting actor academy award. The combination of Crystal and
Palance together add much to the enjoyment of the film. The highlight
for me was the birth of a calf, that Mitch helps to bring into
the world, acting as a cow midwife, under the direction of Curly.
Then, this cattle drive turns into a grand adventure
for all. A series of mishaps happen on this trail ride, indirectly
caused by Curly's death from a heart attack. Some of the best
scenes were the infamous stampede scenes, the drunken cowboy scene,
the river adventure and anything and everything that dealt with
these city boys, trying to prove their manhood, by doing the right
thing, & by developing their primitive, wilderness survival
skills, in order to do so. In the end, they have a better grasp
of what that "One Thing" in their lives is, that gives
their existence meaning.
The end result is both a moving, and ingenious
comedy, melded with an underlying message, that is filled with
witty one-liners, and great chemistry amongst all cast members.
Besides the outstanding performances of Billy
Crystal and Jack Palance, Daniel Stern, as Phil, nearly steals
the show from Crystal with his nearly flawless, comical, dramatic
performance, as a man who is unhappy about how his life has turned
out, and his personal failings. His unhappiness and anger with
himself climaxes in a powerfully touching sequence of scenes,
when Stern's character looses it after the drunken cowboys threaten
Crystal with a gun, over his calf.
This sparkling comedic, yet poignant screenplay
was written by the very talented Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel,
who teamed together to write such jewels as "League of Their
Own," "Parenthood," "City Slickers II: The
Legend of Curly's Gold" and "Where the Heart Is."
The fine direction was by Ron Underwood, who
did a great job intermingling the comedy with the drama, making
a thoroughly entertaining funny and touching film.
It's a great film for everyone of all ages, although
it is rated PG 13 for some profanity. Overall however, it promises
to be an enjoying, fun-filled evening for the family.