1991, PG-13, 112 min. Directed by Ron Underwood. Starring Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, Jack Palance.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 7, 1991
Three best pals from New Jersey, all approaching 40, vacation together every year. Not your standard pina colada-on-the-beach or eat-your-way-through-the-Caribbean-cruise, mind you. No, these guys take fantasy vacations. They've gone to baseball camp, they've run with the bulls in Pamplona and now, they're cowboys on a real cattle drive. Increasingly, these adventures have helped fend off the middle-aged crazies. But with his 39th birthday upon him, Mitch (Crystal) develops a bad case of mid-life crisis and looks to Jack Palance's veteran trail boss (Curly) for the meaning of life. City Slickers is a funny, fast-moving, contemporary comedy developed from an idea by Crystal and scripted by the formidable writing team of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Parenthood, Splash, Night Shift). This team has developed a style so identifiable that it ought to be patented: a jocular, adult, reality-based formula that cruises through life's potholes with steel-belted radials. This new movie is another smooth ride -- very funny, well-acted and mildly insightful. Director Underwood (Tremors) keeps it all moving although the film's many action sequences lack dynamism and flair. But to be fair, City Slickers does not purport to be a Western. It's an intimate comedy about making peace with the irretrievable passage of time and renewing one's enthusiasm for life (baseball metaphors, by the way, seem to be one of today's most popular movie devices for expressing the ineffable). City Slickers marks the dawning of the Age of fortysomething. It's a type of entertainment that allows men the freedom to talk about feelings and emotions instead of always sublimating them with assertive actions. Although City Slickers lacks incisive wisdom, its well-honed witticisms should make this a refreshing summer crowd-pleaser.