Movie Review

City Slickers

Yesterday They Were Businessmen. Today They're Cowboys. Tomorrow They'll Be Walking Funny.
City Slickers Movie Poster

US Release Date: 06-07-1991

Directed by: Ron Underwood


  • Billy Crystal
  • Mitch Robbins
  • Daniel Stern
  • Phil Berquist
  • Bruno Kirby
  • Ed Furillo
  • Jack Palance
  • Curly
  • Patricia Wettig
  • Barbara Robbins
  • Helen Slater
  • Bonnie Rayburn
  • Noble Willingham
  • Clay Stone
  • Josh Mostel
  • Barry Shalowitz
  • Lindsay Crystal
  • Holly Robbins
  • Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Danny Robbins
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: June 7th, 2001
Billy Crystal in City Slickers.

Billy Crystal in City Slickers.

Some movies seem to speak directly at a particular audience. There are the obvious chick flicks that women can cry through and men can pretty much get bored at. On the other hand there are dramatic, non action films that are aimed at men. The most famous being Field Of Dreams. I know men who have cried at the end only to have woman say that they don't get it. This is not an insult to either sex. It is simply a statement that we each respond to films that particularly touch us.

Currently at the place I am in my life, I find myself greatly relating to the movie City Slickers. 10 years ago I would have thought it an okay movie and in 10 years from now I may think it dull, but right now it speaks to me on many personal levels.

This movie is about 3 best friends since childhood who are each dealing with problems in there lives. One has problems with the memory of his father, another has problems in his marriage, and another with his job. The three men go off to a cattle rustling 'camp' on vacation and end up having a very therapeutic, emotional reawakening in their lives. Its not actually as heavy as all that, but they do come back changed men.

Being a middle aged, married, father of 2, I can relate to each of these men on separate levels. However, what makes this movie even more personal for me is the fact of the three friends. They have known each other their entire life. They could spend hours talking baseball. One makes an obscure baseball reference and the other two instantly pickup on it. Being that this website is three movie buff brothers, we do the same, only our point of reference is of course movies. One of us will interrupt a conversation with a movie quote that somehow relates to it and the others two recognize it automatically. I watch this movie and always think of my brothers. Sure, the three of us have full lives away from each other, but, like the friends in this movie, when ever we are together we never lack for conversation.

The wisdom of this movie lies in the hands of a crusty, old cowboy, played perfectly by Jack Palance. He informs the city slickers that they worry about the stupidest things and all they have to do is discover what the one important thing in there life is and once they do that the 'rest ain't shit.'

Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern are all excellent in their middle aged white male angst. None of them over do it. You like them without seeing them as wimpy cry babies, And if you do, then apparently this is not your particular type of movie.

Reviewed on: August 2nd, 2003
Jack Palance and Billy Crystal in City Slickers.

Jack Palance and Billy Crystal in City Slickers.

City Slickers features Billy Crystal's trademark take on the differences between the sex's. 'Women need a reason to have sex, men just need a place,' He remarks at one point. His movie persona is like a younger, blue collar Woody Allen. Both men seem obsessed with death. When Curly (Palance) dies, Phil (Stern) and Ed (Kirby) make a wager over how long it will take for Mitch (Crystal) to bring up the subject. They know each other all too well. And, as Eric said, it is this relationship between the three friends that makes the movie work. Yes, it crosses the county line into schmaltzville more than once, but the topnotch acting and genuinely funny script keep it from making a permanent stop.

There's a scene early in the movie where Mitch takes part in a father/son event at his kid's school. One of the boy's fathers is a crude, loud-mouthed, New York construction worker. He tells the class a profanity laced story about a day on his job that had me rolling on the floor.

Jack Palance steals the movie with less than thirty minutes of screen time. The chemistry between him and Crystal worked so well that it was carried over to the Oscar ceremony that year and a sequel in 1994. Along with wisdom, Curly represents freedom and a vanishing way of life. City Slickers does a good job of balancing its comedy and emotion. While Curly's death is genuinely sad it is also laced with humor. At his burial Phil exclaims… 'The man ate bacon at every meal! You can't do that and live.'

The Dynamics in the friendships between Mitch, Phil and Ed does remind me a lot of us. If you've read many of our reviews here at Three Movie Buffs then you might even have an opinion on which movie buff is the most like which character. I think the boys should saddle up again for another sequel. It could be Mitch's 50th birthday this time. I'm sure Billy Crystal could come up with plenty of material, as obsessed with aging as he is. And besides, now that I am approaching the age that Mitch was in the first movie I realize how nice it is to have someone paving the way.

Reviewed on: August 21st, 2003
Billy Crystal in City Slickers.

Billy Crystal in City Slickers.

I can't say that I related to this movie as much as Eric did, but I do see how you could compare, while not the actual characters to the Three Movie Buffs, but the spirit of their camaraderie to we three reviewers. We all have very different lives, yet we've managed to stay connected due entirely to our love of movies.

While the comedy in this movie is quite funny, I found their sudden life changing revelations to be a bit weak. I can see where being forced to deal with the very real, physical, problems of bringing in the herd could be therapeutic to people whose problems are all mental or psychological, but still the scene at the end when they all announce how they've changed seemed a little too pat and easy.

The symbolism with the cows told the story of change better than having them suddenly stop and announce how they've changed. At the beginning of the movie they are being chased uncontrollably by bulls in Pamplona and at the end of the movie they are bringing in a herd of cows. It's a neat little bookend to the movie that is almost ruined by having it shoved in your face.

But then, maybe as Eric claims, I'm just not in the right place in my life to fully appreciate this movie.