The first film charmed the audience into rooting for each man to discover his core in the comic ups and downs of an alien adventure, but now the lines and chemistry among the players are thoroughly flat.
You blew it, Billy! The first "City Slickers" was a very funny tale of three buddies mired in urban misery who escape for a few weeks to a western cattle drive where they cement their friendship and broaden their lives. The movie had a wonderful, loony kind of charm, but this time out, the writing and casting are simply awful. One of the buddies is replaced by Mitch's whiny sleazeball of a brother, Glen (Jon Lovitz), who casts a grim pall over things every time he appears. Phil (Daniel Stern) contributes little as the other pal in this unappealing trio.
A promising treasure hunt for gold is mildly enlivened by the twin brother (Jack Palance) of the late and loved trail boss, Curly. Palance has the mystery and stature of a fine villain, but his part, as written, renders him silly too, and we mourn the loss of the redeeming presence of the old Curly, who wrapped John Wayne and the Marlboro Man in one glorious cliche.
Crystal, too frantic even for him, seems to know he's in trouble. Just as you begin to smile, the realization settles heavily that it's not the lines, but Crystal's terrific delivery that is making you laugh, and then sparingly. The first film charmed the audience into rooting for each man to discover his core in the comic ups and downs of an alien adventure, but now the lines and chemistry among the players are thoroughly flat. The worn sight gags culminate in Billy's answering his cellular phone while reining in a runaway team. "Contrived" and "labored" are odd adjectives for a Billy Crystal venture, but that's what it is.
Film Critic: JOAN ELLIS
Word Count: 276
Studio: Columbia Pictures
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