|Directed by||Ron Underwood|
|Written by||Lowell Ganz|
|Produced by||Irby Smith|
|Edited by||O. Nicholas Brown|
|Music by||Marc Shaiman|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$180 million|
City Slickers is a 1991 American Western comedy film, directed by Ron Underwood and starring Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, and Jack Palance, with supporting roles by Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater, and Noble Willingham with Jake Gyllenhaal in his debut. For his performance, Jack Palance won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The film's screenplay was written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and it was shot in New York City; New Mexico; Durango, Colorado; and Spain. A sequel City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold was released in 1994, with the same cast, with the exception of Kirby, who was replaced by Jon Lovitz.
In Pamplona, Spain, middle-aged friends Mitch, Ed, and Phil, participate in the running of the bulls. Back home in New York City, Mitch realizes he and his pals use adventure trips as escapism from their mundane lives. Mitch hates his radio advertising sales job; Phil, trapped in a loveless marriage to a shrewish wife, manages his father-in-law's supermarket. Ed is a successful sporting goods salesman who recently married a much younger woman but, unwilling to fully settle down, resists starting a family.
At Mitch's 39th birthday party, Phil and Ed give Mitch a trip for all three to go on a two-week cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado. Phil's 20-year-old employee unexpectedly arrives at the party and announces she is pregnant with his baby, causing Phil's wife, Arlene, to walk out. Mitch's wife, Barbara, insists he go on the cattle drive to soul search for a new purpose in his life. In New Mexico, the trio meet ranch owner, Clay Stone, and their fellow cattle drivers: entrepreneurial brothers Barry and Ira Shalowitz, young and attractive Bonnie, and father-son dentists, Ben and Steve Jessup. Mitch confronts ranch hands, Jeff and T.R., when they begin sexually harassing Bonnie. Trail boss Curly intervenes, though he inadvertently humiliates Mitch.
During the drive, Mitch accidentally causes a stampede which destroys the camp. While searching for stray cows, Mitch discovers Curly has a kind nature beneath his gruff exterior. Curly encourages Mitch to discover the "one thing" in his life that is most important to him. Along the way, Mitch helps deliver a calf from a dying cow. Mitch names the calf Norman.
Shortly after, Curly suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving the drive under Jeff and T.R.'s control. Camp cook, Cookie, gets drunk and accidentally destroys the food supply, breaking his leg in the process. After the Jessups leave to take Cookie to a nearby town, Jeff and T.R. become intoxicated. A fight ensues when they threaten to kill Norman and assault Mitch. Phil and Ed intervene, and Phil holds Jeff and T.R. at gunpoint, which unleashes his pent-up emotions. Soon after, Jeff and T.R. abandon the group. Bonnie and the Shalowitzes continue on to the Colorado ranch, while Ed and Phil remain behind to finish the drive. Mitch also leaves but soon returns to rejoin his friends.
After braving a heavy storm, they drive the herd to Colorado. When Norman nearly drowns as the herd crosses a river, Mitch acts to save him. Both are swept down current, but Phil and Ed rescue them. They safely reach the Colorado ranch. When Stone offers to reimburse everyone's fee, the Jessups prefer going on a future cattle drive. However, Clay reveals that he is selling the herd to a meat packing company. Mitch, Phil, and Ed initially believe they saved the cattle for nothing, but decide to use their experience to help re-evaluate their lives.
The men return to New York City. Mitch, a happier man, reunites with Barbara and their two children; he has also brought Norman home as a pet. Phil learned that his employee was never pregnant, and he and Bonnie are in a relationship. Ed intends to start a family with his wife. Mitch is ready to restart his life with a new vision.
- Billy Crystal as Mitch Robbins
- Daniel Stern as Phil Berquist
- Bruno Kirby as Ed Furillo
- Patricia Wettig as Barbara Robbins
- Helen Slater as Bonnie Rayburn
- Jack Palance as Curly Washburn
- Noble Willingham as Clay Stone
- Tracey Walter as Cookie
- Jeffrey Tambor as Lou
- Josh Mostel as Barry Shalowitz
- David Paymer as Ira Shalowitz
- Bill Henderson as Dr. Ben Jessup
- Phill Lewis as Dr. Steve Jessup
- Kyle Secor as Jeff
- Dean Hallo as T.R.
- Karla Tamburrelli as Arlene Berquist
- Yeardley Smith as Nancy
- Robert Costanzo as Sal Morelli
- Walker Brandt as Kim Furillo
- Molly McClure as Millie Stone
- Jane Alden as Mrs. Green
- Lindsay Crystal as Holly Robbins
- Jake Gyllenhaal as Danny Robbins
- Danielle Harris as Classroom student
- Eddie Palmer as Classroom student
- Howard Honig as Skycap
- Fred Maio as Doctor
- Jayne Meadows as the voice of Mitch's mother
- Alan Charof as the voice of Mitch's father
The film's plot, which consists of inexperienced cowboys battling villains as they press on with their cattle drive after the death of their leader, was conceived to be similar to John Wayne's The Cowboys, although that was a Western drama as opposed to a comedy.[failed verification]
In his 2013 memoir, Still Foolin' Em, Billy Crystal writes of how the casting of the film came about. "Palance," he says, "was the first choice from the beginning, but had a commitment to make another film." He wrote that he contacted Charles Bronson about the part, only to be rudely rebuffed because the character dies. Palance got out of his other obligation to join the cast. Rick Moranis, originally cast as Phil, had to leave the production due to his wife's illness. Daniel Stern was a late replacement in the role. The film was also the debut of actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a "Certified Fresh" 90% rating based on 41 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "With a supremely talented cast and just enough midlife drama to add weight to its wildly silly overtones, City Slickers uses universal themes to earn big laughs." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 70 out of 100, based on reviews from 25 critics. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on a scale of A+ to F.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 1/2 stars out of 4 and wrote: "City Slickers comes packaged as one kind of movie – a slapstick comedy about white-collar guys on a dude ranch – and it delivers on that level while surprising me by being much more ambitious, and successful, than I expected. This is the proverbial comedy with the heart of truth, the tear in the eye along with the belly laugh. It's funny, and it adds up to something."
Awards and honors
Jack Palance, for his role as Curly, won the 1992 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, which was the only Oscar nomination the film received. His acceptance speech for the award is best remembered for his demonstration of one-armed push-ups, which he claimed convinced studio insurance agents that he was healthy enough to work on the film. Billy Crystal was the Academy Awards host, and used the humorous incident for several jokes throughout the evening. Later that night, Palance placed the Oscar on Crystal's shoulder and said, "Billy Crystal ... who thought it would be you?" Crystal added in his book, "We had a glass of champagne together, and I could only imagine what Charles Bronson was thinking as he went to sleep that night." The next year's Oscars opened with Palance appearing to drag in a giant Academy Award, with Crystal (again the host) riding on the opposite end.
Palance and Crystal both were nominated for Golden Globes for their performances, in separate categories, though only Palance won.
- Best Supporting Actor for Jack Palance at the 1992 Academy Awards Won
- Best Supporting Actor for Jack Palance at the 49th Golden Globe Awards Won
- Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical/Comedy for Billy Crystal at the 49th Golden Globe Awards Nomination
- Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical at the 49th Golden Globe Awards Nomination
- Genesis Award for Best Feature Film Won
The film is also recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #86
- 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- Mitch Robbins: "Hi, Curly, kill anyone today?"
- Curly: "Day ain't over yet."
- – Nominated
In popular culture
- The Billy Crystal episode of Muppets Tonight featured a parody entitled "City Schtickers," with Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear in Kirby and Stern's roles.
- Funny or Die produced a mash-up short that combined the film with the 2016 HBO series Westworld that featured Crystal and Stern.
- "DVD & film details". Archived from the original on September 27, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2008. giving "an estimated budget of $26 million". Tower.com. Retrieved July 10, 2008.
- "AFI|Catalog". AFI.com.
A 30 Nov 1990 [Variety] news item indicated that the budget had climbed to $26 million.
- "City Slicker (1991)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- The Cowboys - Similar Movies Archived August 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine at MovieFone. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
- Susman, Gary (June 6, 2016). "'City Slickers': 10 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About the Hit Comedy". www.moviefone.com.
- "City Slickers (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
- "City Slickers". Metacritic.
- "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
- Ebert, Roger (June 7, 1991). "City Slickers Movie Review & Film Summary (1991)". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Jack Palance Wins Supporting Actor: 1992 Oscars (video). Retrieved January 11, 2018 – via YouTube.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "City Slickers in Westworld feat. Billy Crystal from Billy Crystal". Funny Or Die. February 1, 2017. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
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