Hunt for Gold comes up Short
I have a feeling that the guys behind "City Slickers" must have been feeling seriously sick after their little western comedy about mid life crisis ended up becoming hugely popular especially seeing they killed off the character of Curly Washburn. It must have left them with a sticky situation as to how they could capitalize on the movies success with a sequel when such an important character had died. Well they got around it when it came to the sequel "City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly's Gold" as Jack Palance returned but this time as Curly's twin brother Duke, conveniently plucked out of nowhere. To be honest a sequel without Palance wouldn't have been right so it was good that they conjured up a way to cast him but sadly even with Palance "City Slickers 2" isn't right and is surprisingly unfunny whilst also over long.
Life is going quite well for Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal - When Harry Met Sally...) even if it is his 40th birthday. His only real issue is that he is starting to have visions of Curly and wonders if they buried him alive when they rode the trail with him. It is whilst looking at Curly's old hat that he finds a treasure map and ropes in his friend Phil (Daniel Stern - Home Alone) and his brother Glen (Jon Lovitz - A League of Their Own) to go hunting for the treasure. But they are not alone as in the midst of the Arizona desert they find themselves coming face to face with Duke (Jack Palance - Batman), Curly's twin brother who having returned from a life on the waves has been looking for the map to go treasure hunting himself. Having joined forced Mitch does his best to bond with the gruff Duke but when the treasure map gets lost in a stampede it seems their quest may be over.
As you would expect "City Slickers 2" is a blend of the new and the old, drawing on various story elements from "City Slickers" to provide both a continuation and familiarity whilst coming up with a new storyline. Now the part of the movie which is the old, Mitch's friendship with Phil who is still having women trouble, his 40th birthday and the early wake up call from his parents all works, it's still entertaining and makes you smile. But the irony of it is that whilst bringing this familiarity and introducing us to Mitch's "Godfather" loving brother Glen as well as Mitch's mysterious visions of Curly it takes far too long. It almost gets to the point that you wonder whether they will ever hit the trail in search of Curly's gold.
As for the new storyline well it is the search for Curly's gold as Mitch discovers the treasure map in Curly's old hat and it is through this we are introduced to Duke. But whilst a new storyline it again feels familiar as it often mirrors the first movie, be it Mitch now trying to befriend the gruff Duke or pretending they are in a scene from an old western. The old western in jokes sort of work but only if you actually have seen the old westerns that they are on about and as for a joke about "The Godfather", well that just doesn't fit in at all even if it is amusing.
But here is the thing, whilst "City Slickers" was a genuinely funny movie with plenty of banter flying between its stars "City Slickers 2" feels stilted. With Bruno Kirby gone and Jon Lovitz coming in they try to recreate that banter but it is all too staged, too scripted and there is no flow to it. It almost feels like each of the stars got their equal share of funny lines and so each got their moment to try and make you smile but there was no connection between them. It's because Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Jon Lovitz are such funny guys that it does end up frankly a little disappointing.
With the trio of Crystal, Stern and Lovitz not really delivering that leaves Jack Palance who pretty much plays Duke in the same way that he played Curly. It sort of works because he gives Duke character, it maybe the same as Curly but in a movie which feels shockingly flat it is seriously welcome.
What this all boils down to is that "City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly's Gold" whilst entertaining is also a disappointment. It just feels incredibly flat as it tries to recapture the magic of the first movie but never coming anywhere close. The storyline itself isn't that bad, the mix of old and new works well even if it does take an age to get to the main part of the movie. But for a movie which features the great comedy talents of Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Jon Lovitz it is surprisingly unfunny with there being little chemistry between the trio.