It has actually been long enough since I've seen this that it's almost new to me again, despite a few odds and ends I remembered, when I saw it as a kid, probably around 10 or 11 years old. That said, although I didn't quite remember everything, my memories of it are quite fond. It's like when you go on vacation without a camera, then years later, remember it being fun, but don't remember a lot of specifics.
Moving on, however, 'City Slickers' introduces us to Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal), Ed Furrilo (Bruno Kirby) and Phil Berquist (Daniel Stern), running from the bulls in Spain; just one of several adventure trips the trio makes in order to escape their mundane, everyday. Mitch hates his job, Phil hates his marriage, and Ed just isn't ready to settle down.
On Mitch's 39th birthday, Phil and Ed talk Mitch into checking out a two-week cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado. Mitch's wife, Barbara (Patricia Wettig), eventually convinces him, thinking it's something he needs, as he's been a bit of a downer lately. So, indeed, this is another one of those movies like 'Wild Hogs' or 'The World's End', largely about a group of middle-aged men, trying to recapture their youth, or at least do some soul searching in the process. I tend to have a bit of a soft spot for these types of movies, and perhaps this is where it all started, because this is one of the best of them.
Upon arrival in New Mexico, the three guys are introduced to ranch owner, Clay Stone (Noble Willingham); Barry and Ira Shalowitz (Josh Mostel and David Paymer, respectively), who are brothers loosely based on famous ice cream brothers, Ben & Jerry; a young woman named Bonnie Rayburn (Helen Slater); a father-son dentist team, Ben and Steve Jessup (Bill Henderson and Phill Lewis, respectively); and last, but certainly not least, a real, rough and tough cowboy named Curly (Jack Palance), whose performance is pretty great here. I seemed to remember his character just being kind of a jerk towards the guys, but I gotta say, this viewing showed me how likable he really was.
Most of the adventure comes into play after Mitch accidentally causes a stampede while camping, and much of the rest is the group trying to find and round these cattle up, all while developing their respective characters through the experience. I will warn though, there is a calf born here who Mitch takes under his wing, and it really melts the heart - especially when it's given the name Norman, and you see Crystal treat this animal with all the love and respect you have for your family pet. Norman is adorable, and if you were to ever tell me I'd ever say that about a calf, I'd say you were crazy. It wasn't enough to turn me off of burgers, but dammit, Norman's cute!
This move doesn't come without a couple of villains, in the names of Jeff and T.R. (Kyle Secor and Dean Hallo, respectively), but they're basically just bullies through the film. The real challenge here is a men vs nature story combined with a bit of man vs himself and his own mortality. But it does it in a very comedic way, and although I wouldn't call this a dark comedy, I would say it definitely has its moments. One scene involving one particular death actually had me laughing pretty good. This is a great example of a comedy from that era that doesn't have much, if any, moments of cultural ignorance (that I caught, anyway), and I highly recommend giving it a check-out if you need a little slice-of-life comedy in your own life.
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