PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
It is the 40th birthday of Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal), and he is welcoming it. The extraordinary cattle-drive vacation he took has had a lasting effect which allows him a much more satisfying life. For instance, his career as a radio executive is going well, to the point that he has now been promoted to Station Manager, and he regularly jogs with Norman, the calf he helped deliver who has grown into an adult bull.
As a present, Mitch’s wife (Patricia Wettig) is going to have the kids sleep at their aunt’s house so that she and Mitch can have sex alone. But prior to making love, Mitch finds an old map in the hat of his now-deceased friend, Curly (Jack Palance), and sees that it is a treasure map with a small corner missing.
Research in the New York Public Library discloses a 1908 gold theft from the Western Pacific Railroad led by Lincoln Washburn, Curly’s father (portrayed by an old newspaper photograph of Palance). Mitch, for his part, has been seeing Curly’s face everywhere he goes, and is beginning to have doubts about Curly’s death.
Mitch, along with his best friend Phil (Daniel Stern) and his younger, The Godfather-obsessed brother Glen (Jon Lovitz), travel to Las Vegas and then set out on a journey to find the gold in the deserts and canyons of the Southwest. Accidents ensue, such as Glen setting fire to the map with a magnifying glass, and Phil sitting on a cactus with his bare bottom, mistakenly believing that he has been bitten by a rattlesnake.
Along the way, Mitch, Phil and Glen encounter robbers who turn out to be the men (Bud and Matt) who sold them horses and food for the trip. They have come looking for the treasure map. Phil had stupidly bragged to them about Curly, Lincoln, the map and the stolen gold. Just before the city slickers can be killed, a Curly lookalike intervenes and fights the robbers off.
Convinced that his nightmares of accidentally burying Curly alive were true, Mitch is ready for a grave of his own when “Curly” miraculously cuts him free. He then reveals himself to be Duke (Palance), the twin brother of Curly, similar in both demeanor and personality, except that Duke spent his life in the Merchant Marine and has very little knowledge of being a cowboy.
Duke explains that the chef from the cattle drive, Cookie, told him that Mitch had Curly’s clothes, and presumably the hat as well, explaining why he has been stalking Mitch back east. Duke wants the gold for himself, but Mitch persuades him that Curly would not be happy with this, and Duke relents. The trio-turned-foursome then carry on with the quest. However, a reckless act by Mitch causes a stampede, and everything is gone, including the map. Fortunately, Glen’s amazing memory permits him to remember the rest of the way. And just as Mitch and Phil are about to turn back for home, they find the lost cave where the gold is supposed to be.
As soon as they find it, the four are ambushed by two claim jumpers, apparently Bud and Matt, and they begin to fight. Glen is shot in the stomach. Phil angrily berates the shooter while Mitch mourns his brother. Duke unloads the gun, only to see that the bullets are really blanks with red paint pellets. Everyone is mystified. At that moment, Clay Stone (Noble Willingham), the man who organised the previous year’s cattle drive, shows up. Stone reveals that he knew of Duke and had been attempting to contact him for a long time. The two “claim jumpers” are Stone’s sons and not Bud and Matt (although their voices were similar). The treasure map is actually part of a new adventure tour for Stone’s ranch. The buried treasure turns out to be gold-painted lead.
Clay Stone and sons orchestrated the “robbery” to scare the city slickers. They shot one with red paint pellets to make it look real, but had never intended it to break out into a fight. Laughing his head off, Stone leaves the cave, leaving Mitch, Phil, Glen and Duke feeling lost. After a last dinner with Stone and a few old friends (such as Ira and Barry Shalowitz from the original cattle drive), Mitch, Phil and Glen return to Las Vegas. Duke, still staunchly believing the gold to be out there somewhere, stays behind.
Duke makes a surprise visit to Mitch’s hotel room, telling him that he has adopted Curly’s philosophy and found out what his “one thing” is: honesty. Duke reveals that he was planning to cheat Mitch and friends out of the gold, although he later couldn’t find it in his heart to do so. Duke then reveals that he had the missing corner of the map in his hat all along, just as Curly had in his. Mitch doesn’t believe it until Duke slams a gold brick on the table. A skeptical Mitch tries to scratch the off the gold paint, but it won’t come off, revealing that they are going to be rich after all.
Well, lookee here, a sequel to a film that really didn’t need it. Is there any wonder City Slickers II: The Legacy of Curly’s Gold was not as well received as the original City Slickers. Personally, though, I found myself that this film was more relatable, for lack of a better word, than its predecessor.
What did I like?
Love that Lovitz. When I saw that Jon Lovitz was added to the cast, replacing Bruno Kirby, who decided to not return, I was extremely skeptical. Outside of Saturday Night Live, The Critic (anyone remember that show), and a few cameos in some Adam Sandler flicks, Lovitz hasn’t exactly been the funniest guy, bu rather annoying. Here, they play up his slimy, annoying schtick and also making him a bit of a sympathetic character, as well.
Palance II. It can never be easy to play a character that is almost the exact as what was done previously, only this time around you’re playing their twin brother. Sounds ver soap opera-ish, right? Well, that’s what Jack Palance had to do with Duke, who is Curly’s twin brother. With subtle differences here and there, they are different people after all, he does an excellent job of not being a clone of Curly.
Crisis averted. One thing that can be said about this film is that it never really gets too deep into anything too dark, gruesome, or evil. Sure there are some claim jumpers, but this is a comedy after all, do you really expect them to kill the stars?
Animated intro. In the mid 80s and early 90s, there were quite a few films that actually used animated credits. By today’s standards, some may call this cheesy, but I loved them. Of course, no one would ever use them anymore because, let’s face, when was the last time you saw a film that had actual opening credits? They’d rather use that time to make sure that people like the director’s mailman’s 3rd cousin’s ex-wife’s beautician’s kindergarten teacher is in the end credits nowadays, but that’s a topic for another post someday.
What didn’t I like?
Family. In the last film, there was more of a focus on Mitch’s family. This time, there get a quick cameo scene and, with the exception of his wife calling while they were in “Las Vegas”. I’m not saying they should have been a major part of the cast, but it would have been nice to have seen them for more than a couple of minutes.
Death becomes him. For some reason, they kept harping on Curly’s death. There was a reason for this, but for me I just didn’t care for it. It reminded me of the end of The Cowboys where they come back and see that John Wayne isn’t buried there anymore. I was half expecting Curly to come back at the end, especially since he didn’t really seem like he was dead, anyway.
Resolution. The way the plot resolves itself didn’t quite work for me. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that it just seemed like a cheap way to end it because they couldn’t come up with anything better. In contrast, though, the final scene does give the audience something a little more worthy.
All in all, though, City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold is a decent watch. Nothing spectacular, but decent. I would say this is worth a watch at anytime, but nothing to stop what you’re doing and watch. Pop it in sometime and check it out!
3 1/3 out of 5 stars