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City Slickers

The setup is sheer simplicity, as Billy Crystal, coming to grips with the doldrums of midlife thanks to his 39th birthday, is convinced by his wife (Patricia Wettig) and two best friends (Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby) to take off for two weeks on a ranch driving cattle across the west.

The setup is sheer simplicity, as Billy Crystal, coming to grips with the doldrums of midlife thanks to his 39th birthday, is convinced by his wife (Patricia Wettig) and two best friends (Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby) to take off for two weeks on a ranch driving cattle across the west.

The childhood fantasy comes to life in a number of ways, perhaps foremost in the presence of gnarled trail boss Curly (Jack Palance), a figure always seemingly backlit in larger-than-life silhouettes.

The other cowboy wannabes include a father-and-son dentist team (Bill Henderson, Phill Lewis), fraternal ice-cream tycoons (David Paymer, Josh Mostel) a beautiful woman (Helen Slater) who braved the trip on her own. A series of increasingly absurd events lead to central trio toward an ultimate challenge that turns the vacation into a journey of self-discovery.

Crystal gets plenty of chance to crack wise while he, Stern and Kirby engage in playful and not-so-playful banter – Stern coming off a recently (and publicly) failed marriage while the womanizing Kirby grapples with his own fear of fidelity. Director Ron Underwood (who made his feature debut on Tremors) generally keeps the herd moving at a fine pace.

1991: Best Supp. Actor (Jack Palance)

City Slickers

  • Production: Columbia/Castle Rock. Director Ron Underwood; Producer Irby Smith; Screenplay Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel; Camera Dean Semler; Editor O. Nicholas Brown; Music Marc Shaiman, Hummie Mann;; Art Director Lawrence G. Paull
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 112 MIN.
  • With: Billy Crystal Daniel Stern Bruno Kirby Patricia Wettig Helen Slater Jack Palance
  • Music By: