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When Ed has ideas for insane daring-do,
He gets his two pals Mitch and Phil to come too.
Mitch feels somehow trapped in his unfulfilled life,
And often complains to his kids and his wife.
They all soon are sick of his cynical view.
Phil also has problems; he’s scared of his spouse.
He’s hesitant, timid, and scared as a mouse.
His wife comes to learn that he had an affair,
Since frankly their marriage did not have a prayer;
He loses his job and is kicked from the house.
Ed has issues too with commitment and such,
But he has a plan for a surefire crutch:
A real cattle drive with real cattle to drive
To help them be cowboys, austere and alive.
Mitch goes, but he isn’t excited too much.
They meet other city folk, bound for the trail,
And Curly the trail boss, who’s tough as a nail.
They transport the herd, starting off with “Yaw hoos,”
To New Mexico with a chorus of moos.
They hope to revitalize life through travail.
When Mitch, making coffee, provokes a stampede,
He’s taken by Curly to find cows in need.
He’s scared of the cowboy but proves his own worth
By helping a cow have an impromptu birth.
He looks up to Curly, a now dying breed.
The cowpoke tells Mitch he must find his one thing
That makes life worthwhile and keeps it in swing.
Not long after that, Curly suddenly dies.
They must do without him, so rugged and wise.
The trip goes awry without his guiding wing.
At last, their friends scattered, it’s Mitch, Ed, and Phil
Who keep the cows moving with moxie and will.
They help cross a river, where Mitch nearly sinks
But saves the young calf he delivered (he thinks).
They all prove themselves by surviving the thrill.
They save the cows, but, after crossing the water,
They learn all the cattle are destined for slaughter.
So Mitch takes the calf and his old smile back.
Withstanding their crises, they’re all back on track,
And Mitch found his one thing: his wife, son, and daughter.

City Slickers is yet another Billy Crystal classic with a winning mix of comedy and drama. The midlife crises of the three friends are all pretty realistic, even when handled comically, and their conversations, such as describing their best and worst days, provide welcome depth to their characters and motivations. Crystal’s typically clever banter again steals the show, and, though the film isn’t a laugh riot all the way through, it has periodic lines and moments of hilarity that make it very entertaining.

Billy Crystal and his When Harry Met Sally… co-star Bruno Kirby are always an amusing pair (Kirby hid his horse allergy very well), and Daniel Stern is equally well-cast as the adulterous Phil, who mourns how his life has gone down the tubes. But the one who earned the most critical praise and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor was Jack Palance as the gravelly-voiced Curly, who evokes leathery toughness and rustic sagacity with his impressive if too brief performance. Also, I was surprised to see that this movie was Jake Gyllenhaal’s film debut as Mitch’s 10-year-old son.

There is some unfortunate and unnecessary profanity and sexual dialogue, but City Slickers is still a rousing and enjoyable western comedy. Plus, that calf sure is adorable!

Best line: (Curly, as Mitch is reaching into a cow to help it give birth) “What’s taking so long? Do you see the head?”
(Mitch) “Ew. I only see a tail.”
(Curly) “Oh, s***. It’s turned the wrong way. Get it out.”
(Mitch) “Uh, oh. My watch came off.”
VC’s best line: (Mitch, to Ed) “Ed, have you noticed that the older you get, the younger your girlfriends get? Soon you’ll be dating sperm.”


Artistry: 7
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 9
Visual Effects: 5
Originality: 7
Watchability: 8
Other (language and sexual dialogue): -5
TOTAL: 39 out of 60

Next: #220 – Pinocchio

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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