‘City Slickers’ is a fun guy flick
We often hear the term “chick flick.” Usually, those films are romantic comedies or sappy love stories that you might find on the Hallmark Channel.
Quite frankly, I’m not a fan of romantic comedies and I fly by the Hallmark Channel when scrolling through on my remote.
One night, my son and I were perusing the free movies as we typically do, when I stumbled across the 1991 comedy “City Slickers.” I asked my son, Jake, if he’d ever seen it. I gave it the ol’ dad sales pitch and we fired it up. I always give the disclaimer, “if you don’t like it, we can turn it off.”
It has been decades since I’ve watched “City Slickers.” I was graduating college when it was first in theatres. It’s hard to believe that the film is 30 years old … yikes! The last time I watched it was probably on VHS … double yikes!
“City Slickers” opens in Pamplona, Spain during the running of the bulls. There, we are introduced to three best friends — Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal), Ed Furillo (Bruno Kirby) and Phil Berquist (Daniel Stern). We quickly learn that the three childhood friends spend a vacation somewhere exotic with their wives.
Mitch, who is approaching 40, is going through a midlife crisis. He hates his job in radio sales. “I sell air,” he tells his wife, Barb (Patricia Wettig).
In an effort to “find his smile,” Mitch heads to a two-week cattle drive with Ed and Phil, who are having crises of their own. Ed is married to a much younger woman and Phil is getting divorced after having an affair with a co-worker at the grocery store he manages.
At the cattle drive, we are introduced to a cast of characters. There’s Barry and Ira Shalowitz, a comical pair of ice cream entrepreneur brothers (clearly a tribute to Ben and Jerry), Bonnie, an attractive single woman and father and son dentists, Ben and Steve Jessup. There are a couple of drunk cowboys who help lead the cattle drive, Jeff and T.R. However, the leader of the cattle drive, Curly (Jack Palance), really steals the show. He is a rough and tumble cowboy, or as Mitch puts it, “a saddlebag with eyes.”
Palance is fantastic as Curly. He immediately clashes with Mitch, who cracks jokes at every turn. His sense of humor doesn’t fly with Curly.
Although “City Slickers” is a comedy at heart, there are plenty of tender, warm-hearted moments. Mitch helps Curly with the birth of a calf, who he names Norman. Mitch takes the calf under his wing and it becomes a pet, of sorts. One of the scenes that really got to me was a conversation between Mitch, Ed and Phil. They are talking about their best and worst days ever. At first, Ed refuses to discuss the topic. However, we learn that his best day was when his cheating father left his mother. He never saw him again, so it was also, by default, his worst day. That scene is tough to watch.
While Crystal isn’t a great actor, his comedic timing is on display and by the end we are really rooting for him and his buddies to complete the cattle drive and “find his smile.”
Kirby, a great character actor, shines as Ed. It’s tough to watch, knowing that he died at 57 from complications related to leukemia.
For the most part, “City Slickers” holds up pretty well. There’s an argument about a VCR, which will be lost on anyone under the age of 25. Other than that, it’s an enjoyable guy flick, which are hard to come by these days.
“City Slickers” is rated PG-13 for some coarse language, adult themes and the bloody birth scene. It is available on Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, YouTube and Google Play.
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Chris Morelli is a staff reporter for The Express.