"Come and get me, come and get me, come and get me!"

It's Mitch Robbins's fortieth birthday. One year after his cattle drive experience in the original City Slickers, Mitch begins seeing the trail boss from his adventure following him around. The catch is that this trail boss, Curly, died during the cattle drive. Convinced that he buried Curly alive, Mitch puts on the cowboy's old hat and finds a weathered old map stuck inside. It turns out that it's a treasure map that leads the way to a chest of gold that was stolen by Curly's grandfather, Lincoln Washburn. Together with his friend and former cattle drive buddy Phil Berquist and his slacker brother Glenn, Mitch goes back to the west to search for the treasure in 1994's City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold.

While the original City Slickers has been adored as a tale of three men each dealing with their own unique mid-life crises while taking part in a real western cattle drive, many people have put down this sequel as a weak, watered down goofy movie that lacks the impact of the first film. Instead I say that it's a story of trust, friendship, and honesty. Billy Crystal (who portrays Mitch) said after completing the first film that he would not consider a sequel to the film unless the right script came along. The original draft of the sequel revolved around the original three main characters - Mitch, Phil, and Ed - taking their fathers on a cattle drive as a way of bonding with their parents. Instead the film evolved into a treasure hunt romp in the tradition of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with homages to Stagecoach, Shane, and even, oddly enough, Deliverance. When Bruno Kirby (Ed) passed on the sequel Jon Lovitz stepped in to take on the role of Mitch's brother, Glenn. Daniel Stern returned as Phil and Jack Palance returned as well, but this time as Curly's twin brother, Duke.

The majority of the film was shot on location near the small town of Moab, Utah and the director, Paul Weiland, treats the landscape as one of the characters. The natural beauty of the land is in nearly every shot and I recommend viewing the widescreen DVD of the film as opposed to the pan and scan version that pops up on video and television. Canyons, rivers, mountains: it's all there behind, in front of, and beside our heroes.

There are a number of subplots in the storyline that at first glance appear to be throwaway gags, but with closer observation it's easy to see how they all fit together. Glenn has a knack for memorizing movies (his favorite is The Godfather II) that pays off when the treasure map is lost and he remembers what the map looked like despite only having glanced at it once. A stampede destroys all the supplies except for miner's helmets... which turn up at the end of the film in the cave scenes. There's even a return to a joke from the first film when Mitch believes that Duke has died while standing up; in the first film Curly died on his feet in his sleep. And yes, Norman the Cow makes a cameo appearance, although this time he's all grown up.

City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold was released on DVD on April 1, 2003 and I highly recommend it. Aside from a clear widescreen transfer of the film, the disc also includes the theatrical trailer, cast & crew bios, and a screen-specific commentary featuring Paul Weiland, Daniel Stern, and Jon Lovitz. The DVD-impaired can watch for the film to show up on cable television, as in May 2003 Country Music Television acquired the air rights for both City Slickers films and they typically run them together back-to-back in a five hour block. Either way you choose to see it, just don't miss it. While many people saw the film as a pointless sequel, I see it as a piece of buried treasure.

DVD commentary

Seen the film already? Then I'll tell you about the alternate ending. In the original ending Duke went back to the cave and found the real treasure, took off with it, and Mitch and friends never found out about it. The crew realized that this was not the best ending to the film, so they returned to Las Vegas to film the ending we know today. Jon Lovitz said that when he attended the premiere of the film, the audience burst out in the loudest cheers and applause he'd ever heard when Duke slaps that gold bar down on Mitch's table.

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