American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"City Slickers" comes packaged as one kind of movie - a slapstick comedy about white-collar guys on a dude ranch - and it delivers on that level while surprising me by being much more ambitious, and successful, than I expected. This is the proverbial comedy with the heart of truth, the tear in the eye along with the belly laugh. It's funny, and it adds up to something.
The movie opens with three professional guys mired in their discontent. Billy Crystal plays Mitch, who sells time for a radio station, and is happy, more or less, although his wife tells him he has lost his smile. Daniel Stern labors for his father-in-law's supermarket, and is married to a woman so insufferable that he has developed psychosomatic narcolepsy as a form of dealing with her.
Bruno Kirby, the third pal, is obsessed with the passage of time and proves himself by pursuing young women and egging his pals on to hare-brained vacation ideas.
It's his notion that this year they should try a dude ranch - but a "real one," where along with other city slickers they'll be cowboys for a couple of weeks, and move a real herd of real cattle across real plains to Colorado, also real. The set-up of the movie - the three buddies and their various forms of misery - is funny, but the dude ranch possesses a certain mythic quality, reinforced by the theme from "The Magnificent Seven" which plays under the Western action, sometimes ironically, sometimes even heroically.