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CITY SLICKERS

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Review by Alex Haberstroh

Stars:  Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, Jack Palance
Director:  Ron Underwood
Audio:  Dolby Surround (English and French)
Video:  1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio:  MGM
Features:  See Review
Length:  114 Minutes
Release Date:  May 8th, 2001

“Wait, let's just recap what we buried so far on this trip.   A trail boss, two horses…”

“I can't believe we buried horses.”

“Well the impact really drove them into the ground, we just covered em' up with some dirt.”

Film ***1/2

The phenomena known as the “mid-life crisis” is something many can recognize.  Men, realizing they're getting older and losing their vibrant youth, try to reclaim it.  We've all seen it in one form or another: the slightly overweight middle aged guy strapped to a Harley, the guy dating a girl that his daughter probably earned money babysitting for, or even at the “weekend warrior” activities like skydiving, mountain climbing, or auto racing.  The last is the case for the characters of City Slickers.

Mitch (Crystal), having just turned thirty-nine and suffering from depression, wonders what else life has in store for him.  Having financial security, a loving wife and family, and two best friends, he still is plagued by a constant feeling of emptiness.  His wife, finally fed up, sends him on a on a cattle drive with his two friends Ed (Kirby) and Phil (Stern), the hope that he can find whatever is missing from his life.

Without going into every plot point, City Slickers is a comedic gem, providing not only a thorough helping of quirky “Crystal humor,” but also a great story and acting to back it up (so much so that in addition to the picture garnering many other nominations and awards, supporting actor Jack Palance was awarded a Best Supporting Actor statuette for his role).  In the end, City Slickers achieves a delicate balance between comedy and tenderness, and is surprisingly touching at points.

Video ***

The Anamorphic transfer looks fairly well done.  The film's video presentation overall is respectable.  Not reference quality certainly, but I wouldn't necessarily expect it for this type of film. 

Thankfully, as large portions of this movie are supposed to be in the reddish brown canyons of Colorado, there were no real problems with any color bleeding.  Overall this is an “acceptable” transfer by MGM. 

Audio **1/2

The Dolby 2.0 track that's offered is generally what you'd expect out of a comedy: most of the sound is dialogue deriving from the center channel, with only a few moments of slight activity in the front and back surrounds.  While most of the movie is dialogue-oriented, MGM has provided a nice track, offering pretty much what I'd need to enjoy the film.  All in all, a suitable sound transfer that does the job clearly, but in no way will blow you away.             

Supplements *

I would've loved a commentary by Crystal, Palance, or even Director Ron Underwood; unfortunately, only a trailer is included.

Summary:

In conclusion, City Slickers is a fine film that I would recommend to anyone in the mood for a touching comedy.  Although MGM hasn't exactly taken out all the stops on this film, it's good to see that with their “Contemporary Classics” line they're making a good effort at releasing their catalog titles.  Recommended.