Film Review: City Slickers II

"City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold" repackages the Western adventure as a cure for the mid-life crises of Mitch (Billy Crystal) and Phil (Daniel Stern). Either Ed (Bruno Kirby) found a new vacation-type catharsis for his yuppie-dom, or the rumors of tension between Kirby and Crystal are more than rumors, because Kirby is replaced by John Lovitz, stiff at first, as Mitch's brother. Luckily, Lovitz loosens up when the trio hits the plains. For fans of the one arm push-up man, super tough oldie Jack Palance returns as Curly's twin brother, Duke.

With the winning combination of Palance and Crystal, the beautiful western scenery, and a well-used hunt-for-hidden-treasure plot line, "City Slickers II" is a decent follow-up to an extremely successful "City Slickers." It's not a sequel meriting a ranking with "The Godfather Part II," as some reviewers have made it out to be, but it is not a simple rip-off of the first. It's a more complicated rip-off. "City Slickers II" has the laughs and action for a pleasant time, but as westerns have always been, it is a super Saturday matinee.

A year has passed since Mitch and Phil went out West. Mitch dreams of his friend Curly's death and the experiences of the first trail drive. He feels guilty about Curly, believing he somehow could have saved him. Then Mitch thinks he sees Curly on the commuter train.

Phil is still a neurotic loner and on the edge of a shrink's couch. "My clothes seem to have personalities," he admits. Mitch must face firing him since he can't do his job at the radio station, which is the only thing holding Phil together. Mitch's loafing brother enters the scene, being whiny and pathetic. Luckily for Mitch, instead of having to deal with these problems like the rest of us have to do, he discovers a treasure map leading to millions in gold.

Why can't this happen during my crises?

The trio goes out West to find the gold, and in the ensuing adventure, rediscovers friendship and brotherhood through various near-death experiences. The trio are still certainly City Slickers as they follow the map. You have to wonder how Lovitz can handle a team of horses. Maybe they have crash courses in wagon handling. Then, enter Jack Palance, in the manner of every great Western hero, saving the day and busting heads.

The male bonding in the film is constant as they conquer all obstacles to the goal of the multi-million dollar treasure. No women allowed. There are some great scenes with Mitch's wife (Patricia Wettig) in the beginning of the film, yet she is left out of the rest of the film. Seeing her trek over the mountains and desert with Mitch in tow could have been an interesting twist., but, as in many Westerns, it is male only. In the end, the boys, along with Granddad Jack, discover something more important than treasure; they discover themselves, their honesty and love for one another. Yes, children, how many times has it been said that it is not if you win or lose, but how you play the game? It's all a bit hackneyed, yet enduring.

"City Slickers II" again tries to show the solution to male yuppie problems (aging, loneliness, annoying relatives, etc.) is slapstick comedy and witty dialogue while stumbling from danger to danger in the Old West. There is enough comedy, action and a little soul searching to appeal to fans of the first film.

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