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Click above to purchase "City Slickers" at amazon.com

 

City Slickers

review by Zach B.

Rated PG-13

Studio: MGM

Running Time: 114 minutes

Starring Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby, Patricia Wettig, Helen Slater and Jack Palance

Written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel

Directed by Ron Underwood

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Stereo Surround, French Dolby Mono, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (16 Chapters)

I find it a little hard to believe, but as of writing this its been nearly ten years since "City Slickers" was first released in theaters. Has it really been that long? Well, yes. Time really flies... but besides the point, I'm finally glad "City Slickers" has made its way on our beloved format.

Personally, I've been eagerly awaiting "City Slickers" on DVD for a long time. It was supposed to be out around two years ago, from its original distributor I believe, that being Columbia/Tri-Star. But there was a whole rights battle from what I hear and the release kept getting moved and delayed, until finally, it was taken off the list. Somehow MGM got the rights to release it (they recently aquired a lot of films), and here's where we are now. Hell, the MGM logo appears at the start of the film (no sign of Columbia here) and there's no mention of Castle Rock Entertainment in the opening credits, but its on the disc itself and box as far as copyright information goes.

But "City Slickers"... where to begin? For me, "City Slickers" ranks as one of the best comedies of the 1990s, and one of my favorite comedies of all time. The movie is a whole lot of fun and there's so much to like about the film. A good premise, great jokes, a well developed script and a fantastic cast. It may be one of the best comedic mid-life crisis movies too.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, "City Slickers" follows Mitch Robbins, a New York radio worker who sells time to advertisers on the station he works for. Mitch just turned thirty-nine, and is pretty depressed about it, and works himself into a mid-life crisis. Mitch finds his life pretty dull, so his friends Ed and Phil decide to take Mitch on a vacation for his birthday. Where to? New Mexico for two weeks of herding cattle from there to Colorado. Of course, along the way, there's a lot of hilarious hijinks to enjoy, but more so, Mitch and his friends learn more about themselves and learn to be happy with who they are and try to enjoy life... and all that other moral stuff which is actually packed into the film well and not in a preachy style.

I'm a big Billy Crystal fan, and this is a film which truly shows off his comedic talent and comic timing. Crystal plays his usual self - a moping guy with his usual schtic who's trying to get through it all, and with that, there's humor. He's simply perfect as Mitch and really embodies who Mitch is. Bruno Kirby as Ed and Daniel Stern as Phil as Mitch's friends do great jobs as well, they're also great in their roles and really funny. And of course, there's Jack Palance, in his Oscar® winning role as Curly. Palance brings an incredible sense of stamina and a great deal of dignity to his role. Palance is really the only one I can imagine for the role, he's just so good as the gruff but heartfelt Curly. While I think he deserved the awards, one can argue about how supporting is supporting. Awards are always messy like that, but it was more like a supporting supporting role. Curly really isn't on the screen that much, and I just feel it's not a supporting role, but smaller. But hey, Palance does a fantastic job and thats how things work.

Again, the film really boasts a strong story with good character development. There's a lot of gags and great lines to enjoy, as well as some fun sequences which makes the movie such a riot. Every time I see it, I just get sucked into it and I really enjoy it. Underwood's direction is great and there's some nice shots as well as great editing. To top it off, Marc Shaiman, who I feel is an underrated composer, does wonders for the film with the music. His light score is pitch perfect. He knows when to make it comedic and fun while other times to make it deep with a good tone to it. The music fits so perfectly and is pretty catchy, and just gives the film a good sense. Basically, if you've never seen this film, go out and rent it. You won't be disappointed.

The transfer for "City Slickers" really surprised me. I thought it'd look grainy and old, but it looks good. And it's in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) no less. Grain and dirt is kept to a minimum, but it's still there, though not as much as I expected. The image can be a little soft at times, but other times its really sharp. Black levels range from very good to excellent, and colors are well saturated. But the main problem I noticed is the digital artifacting. It's pretty noticeable and can get annoying. Still, this is the best shape I've seen the movie in.

I was a bit disappointed with the sound on this disc. It's not bad by any means, it's simply average. I think "City Slickers" could have benefited from a 5.1 remix to really do it justice, while the stereo mix is only decent. This movie is pretty sound heavy, such as the opening running of the bulls scene and chapter eight with the cattle. Unfortuantly, the stereo surround mix makes it just sound normal, nothing special. It sounds a bit bland, everything sounds the same basically where musical cues could have lifted things up and some action noises could have really put a nice punch to give life to the movie. Still, as far as things go, things sound pretty clear and there's distortion. Nothing bad, but something a lot better would have been fantastic. In typical MGM fashion, there's English closed captioning and French and Spanish subtitles.

The nearly three minute Theatrical Trailer is included in two channel sound and full frame. It's a pretty good trailer. I would have loved more supplements such as a commentary, featurettes and such, but not here. I bet if Columbia/Tri-Star released it, there would be more (or at least some production notes and talent files at least!).

MGM has delivered a decent package for a terrific comedy. While I would have loved more supplements, the price is right and the presentation is pretty good. "City Slickers" should fit nicely in your DVD collection, considering you can get it for around 15 bucks.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(3/5)

(.5/5)

(3.5/5, NOT an average)

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