At some point in our lives we face the dreaded Mid-Life Crisis. The moment in time when you realize that you have spent half of your life pursuing something that you have begun to question. It is a feeling of dread, of fear and of unfulfillment. Many people find solace in a new sports car or suddenly begin working out, others take a younger lover or abandon their family all together, while the rest of us simply try to find something that gives our lives meaning in a world that becomes more and more meaningless as the days pass by. In this film we find three friends who are facing this dreaded period in their lives, each with their own set of difficulties. Their answer to the problem is going to the extreme, they choose to experience as many crazy things they can including a cattle drive through the American west. This is City Slickers.
Today’s Key Movie:
Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby star in City Slickers, a film about midlife and rediscovering lost youth. After experiencing the running of the bulls in Spain, Mitch (Crystal) is surprised by his friends, Phil and Ed (Stern and Kirby) with a present for Mitch’s 39th birthday, one last hurrah, a two week cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado. Going off on on this journey, the trio find themselves facing hardships, bonding experiences and a journey that they will remember for a lifetime. It’s fun, heartwarming and, above all it’s funny.
Why this movie?
When I first saw this film, I saw it as a fun fish-out-of -water film. Here was Mitch, a guy from the city with a good job, a good wife and a decent life and he finds himself wanting something more in life. Soon he finds himself on an adventure that he is not suited for and eventually finds himself in that journey. To me, as a kid, it was a sappy story that happened to be funny and, oddly enduring.
As I grew older I began to realize that this is the story of every guy who approaches middle age, we begin to doubt ourselves and the people we have become. We all end up facing that moment at some point in our lives and it is how you handle it that matters. For Mitch and it’s friends, it is a grant adventure, for me, who knows. Maybe this blog is just the start of something bigger in the future.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
This is one of Billy Crystal’s finest films, Monsters Inc notwithstanding and it holds up brilliantly even after 27 years. Everyone in the cast is fantastic and appear to really be having a blast during the filming of the movie. There is one actor in the film that really stands out and that is Jack Palance in the role of Curly.
Curly is the trail boss and the cowboy of cowboys. He is tough, surly and an honorable man determined to fulfill this last cattle drive. Throughout the film he appears as the voice of reason and the guide for all of the city slicking people accompanying the him on the journey. Jack Palance has always come across as the quintessential man’s man and, in this film he is no different. He comes across as one to fear and one to obey but, he is also one that will take care of you no matter what the cost.
As I re-watch this film I am also reminded of the context of a book I am currently reading. The book is by Mark Manson and is called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. (It’s a brilliant book that I will likely do a review on at some point.) In the book, Mark mentions that we tend to want what others have when we see just how nice their lives appear while ignoring the struggle those people went through to get where they are. We tend to forget just how good our lives are in our pursuit of making them better, we want a better car, a better computer, a better tv, better sex, we constantly want better even when we already have good.
In the film, each of the characters are looking for something in their life when they already have a life that would be the envy of most anyone else, but they don’t seem to appreciate what they have. As they journey through their vacation on the cattle drive, they soon find that everything they need is right where they left it. It’s amazing how we perceive everyone else in our lives, the movie stars on the big screen, the sports stars who make millions, the corporate executives on their personal yachts, but we don’t recognize the struggles they had to get into those positions. I think Curly says it best in the film with a simple exchange with Mitch.
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
Curly: This. (holds up a finger)
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: (smiles) That’s what you have to figure out.
Until I rewatched this film for this review, I had forgotten about that little nugget of wisdom. I couldn’t have known just how pertinent it would be some twenty-seven years later.
Interesting fact the nickname Curly is short for the title Curly Wolf. In the old west, to call someone ‘Curly Wolf’ was a sign of both fear and respect. By definition it means they are a real tough, dangerous man. Pretty cool little subtle reference for a film like this. The writers really did their research.
OK, where do I get this movie?
At the time of this writing you can grab a copy here for around $7 bucks. You can also, of course, grab a copy digitally. If you loved this film, there happens to be a sequel called City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly’s Gold. It is in fact a pretty decent sequel to be honest.
Late To The Game 11/22/2018
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