My Favorite Movies #99 – City Slickers

City SlickersCity Slickers

1991

Directed by Ron Underwood

Netflix says… For a change of pace, three amigos facing midlife crises sign on for a fortnight cattle drive through the Colorado hills. The urbanites’ survival depends on a leathery trail boss who doesn’t cotton to greenhorn city slickers.

  • Kids, this is a great movie. And if you disagree, you clearly have poor taste in movies.
  • I’m actually a little surprised it ranks as low as #99 on this list. But hey, when there are 100 movies to get through, some have to be at the bottom, right?
  • Here we have Billy Crystal, who you probably know from being Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, who you probably know as Marv from Home Alone or the disembodied voice of adult Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years, and Bruno Kirby, you probably know as Billy Crystal’s best friend in City Slickers… and When Harry Met Sally…
  • These three gentlemen are each going through something mid-life crisis-ish.
  • Mitch (Crystal) in particular is having a difficult time coming to grips with the fact that he’s turning 39. He’s bored with his job and, his wife fears, with his life in general.
  • Phil (Stern) is trapped in a loveless marriage and is caught having an affair with one of his employees… at the supermarket that his father-in-law owns.
  • Ed (Kirby) is the most obvious mid-life crisis guy because all of the adventures that he talks his friends into going on, beginning with the running of the bulls in Pamplona.
  • A year after Mitch is gored by a bull, he wakes up to his mother’s annual birthday phone call.
  • Holy crap… I’ll be 39 next year. Does that mean I’m due for a good mid-life crisis?
  • It’s career day at Mitch’s son’s school. Instead of talking about the job he hates, he goes on a very Billy Crystalesque spiel about what it’s like to get older.
  • Oh, and guess who his son is? It’s a very young Jake Gyllenhaal.
  • Okay, the first 20 minutes of this movie are pretty depressing, based solely on Mitch’s attitude.
  • At Mitch’s birthday party, Phil and Ed let Mitch know that his birthday present is a trip out west. They’re going to work a real cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado over a two week period.
  • Mitch is grateful, but turns them down. He lets them know the family has already planned to visit his in-laws in Florida.
  • Also at Mitch’s birthday party, Phil’s employee shows up and announces to the world that she might be pregnant. This leads to an explosive argument between Phil and his wife.
  • After the party, Barbara shares that she’s worried about Mitch and this recent growing depression. She insists that he go on the cattle drive.
  • “Go away with Ed. Take Phil. I am giving you these two weeks. It’s my present. Go and find your smile.”
  • “What if I can’t?” It’s got to be a scary place to be in life when you realize that you’re so depressed that you may not know how to find joy again.
  • At the ranch, all the guests are greeting each other. This is where we meet Bonnie (Helen Slater, who you may know as the only actress to ever play Supergirl on the big screen), the only woman on the drive.
  • Up next is the montage showing us just how little everyone knows about riding horses and being cowboys.
  • The hired ranch hands begin harassing Bonnie. Mitch steps in, but they’re not exactly intimidated by Mitch.
  • Then Curly steps in. Curly is played by the incomparable Jack Palance. He makes it clear that neither of them will act like that again.
  • As the cattle drive begins, things are fairly easy going.
  • City Slickers - Kill Anyone.gif“Hi, Curly. Killed anyone today?”
  • “Day ain’t over yet.” Good stuff…
  • I think most of what I love about this movie involves the conversations that these three friends have throughout the cattle drive. They talk about real issues that they’re dealing with.
  • On the second day of the drive, Mitch reveals that he brought a battery operated coffee grinder. The sound of which spooks the herd, causing a stampede.
  • Curly stops the stampede, but not before the herd tears through camp.
  • When a few head of cattle turn up missing, Curly takes Mitch to get them back. That’ll be his penance for stirring up the herd in the first place.
  • Mitch is a little afraid that Curly’s gonna kill him.
  • Once they round up all the strays, it’s too late to catch up with the herd, so they make camp.
  • But it’s nice. Mitch and Curly wind up bonding.
  • Curly explains to Mitch that the secret of life is just one thing. And it’s one thing that everyone has to figure out for themselves.
  • Before they get back to the main herd, Mitch has to deliver a calf.
  • Why’d he take his gloves off to do this? I think I’d have asked for longer gloves.
  • Saving the calf earned Curly’s undying respect.
  • But then Curly died.
  • When they bury him, the ranch hands ask the cook to say something since he knew Curly longest. “Lord, we give you Curly. Try not to piss him off.”
  • With Curly gone, this is where things begin to fall apart for our crew.
  • First, the cook gets drunk and drives his wagon off a cliff, killing his horses and breaking both his legs.
  • “They’re gonna shoot him. I just know they’re gonna shoot him.”
  • Then the ranch hands discover the cook’s whiskey. Then they get drunk. Then they start bullying the guests.
  • When Phil grabs a gun and stands up to them, they take off, leaving the cattle with the inexperienced guests.
  • Everyone but Phil and Ed decide to leave the cattle and ride on to Colorado.
  • But then Mitch comes back and helps his friends.
  • They bring in the herd, a trio of heroes.
  • Once they get home, Mitch reveals to his wife that, sure enough, he found his smile.
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