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Its the insightful, delightful film about cowboys, careers and midlife crises starring comic genius Billy Crystal and Oscar winner Jack Palance.
Thirty-nine-year-old New Yorker Mitch Robbins (Crystal) is tired of his job and bored with his life. So he and his two best friends (Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern) trade their briefcases for saddlebags and set out to find freedom and adventure herding cattle under the wide New Mexico sky. But what they discover instead is scorching sun, sore backsides ... and more about themselves and each other than they ever thought possible.
NEW 2018 4K Scan
Audio Commentary By Director Ron Underwood And Stars Billy Crystal And Daniel Stern
"Back In The Saddle: City Slickers Revisited" Featurette
"Bringing In The Script: Writing City Slickers" Featurette
"A Star Is Born: An Ode To Norman" Featurette
"The Real City Slickers" Featurette
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At the ranch, they meet their fellow tenderfoot drovers — ice cream tycoons Barry and Ira Shalowitz (Josh Mostel, David Paymer), father-and-son dentists Ben and Steve Jessup (Bill Henderson, Phill Lewis), and Bonnie Rayburn (Helen Slater), the sole woman along.
Gruff, leathery trail boss Curly (Jack Palance) is not especially fond of city folk but knows how to whip his urban crew into shape to drive the herd from New Mexico to Colorado. Mishaps ensue involving horses, cattle, roping, belligerent cowboys, and a noisy coffee maker, but being out in the wide open spaces gives the friends a chance to talk about their personal high and low points as they ponder why life hasn’t turned out as they’d hoped.
In addition to being very funny, “City Slickers” is heartfelt in its depiction of three grown men trying to find themselves. Phil has such a terrible marriage that he has an affair with a young clerk in the grocery store he manages. Ed is a womanizer flitting from one pretty girlfriend to the next and creating excitement by organizing highly risky vacations with his buddies. An opening scene that shows the three of them running with the bulls in Pamplona sets the tone for the fun to follow.
The cattle drive starts out well, with all the participants cooperating under the wisdom and iron hand of Curly, but circumstances cause their number to dwindle along the way until only Mitch, Ed, and Phil are left to bring in the herd. This part of the film offers some exciting scenes as the guys lead the herd down a steep embankment and across a river in a raging downpour.
Crystal shines as Mitch, keeping the jokes flowing and preventing the character from coming across as self-pitying or morose. One of the best scenes occurs when Mitch and Curly are out on the range alone to round up stray cows. At first, there’s tension, but eventually a bond forms between these two men of diverse backgrounds. A conversation on horseback allows each man to see the other as a person, not a stereotype. A later scene, in which they help a suffering cow deliver a calf, is both graphic and touching.
Palance, who won the Best Supporting Oscar for his role as Curly, is a hoot, playing a kind of spoof of characters he often played in other films. He electrifies the first part of the film, serving as both stone-faced straight man to Crystal and iron-willed disciplinarian to the easily intimidated city slickers.
Director Ron Underwood fashioned a first-class fish-out-of-water comedy with a strong story. Made in 1991, “City Slickers” holds up well today despite a scene in which Mitch tries to explain to Phil how a VCR — yes VCR — works. With no CGI, the logistics of making a film involving a large herd of livestock and actors who had to look as though they had become reasonably proficient on horseback are astounding. Stuntmen worked on the film but many dangerous scenes did use the actual actors. Performances are excellent, the supporting cast is used effectively, dialogue is often emotional and deep, and the male bonding theme is handled with both humor and heart.
Bonus materials on the Blu-ray release include audio commentary by director Ron Underwood and stars Billy Crystal and Daniel Stern, two deleted scenes, four featurettes, and theatrical trailer.