Countless Stephen King short stories attest to the difficulties of adolescence. But if growing up is tough, growing old is far worse. Or it is for men, anyway. Women seem to have no problem going gracefully and naturally into their golden years. For us it’s a nightmare. This is why Stephen King is known primarily as a horror writer.

See, a lot of times men with no balls get too old to use the balls that they never had, so they begin to long for a fictional past when they still had balls. To reclaim these lost balls they invent brain balls and act upon them with great assertion. But by attempting to invent new balls out of sheer will, they typically end up with one giant ass instead. Because every man who isn’t Clint Eastwood goes through this, it is financially irresponsible to go more than six months without making a male mid-life crisis movie.

City Slickers is about a guy named Billy Crystal who used to have fake balls. Back in the 80’s he was a pretty funny guy. But like everyone who was funny back in the 80’s we simply have to take the 80s’ coked-up word for it. (I’d really like to make a 1980’s funny people Expendables. It would star Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, and Dolph Lundgren.)

Billy Crystal is actually a little in the dark about his mid-life crisis. He has an okay wife, and one of his kids is Donnie Darko back when he was still a gargoyle. He’s kind of down about life, but he still thinks he’s a hip, funny guy.

He’s not though. Instead of actually telling jokes, his humor’s devolved to where just saying a word in a funny voice is the best he’s got. We see this time and time again as Crystal tries to mine laughs from the word “Hello.” It’s very difficult to tell a retarded person that they’re retarded if they’re wearing glasses and a bow tie.

Billy Crystal has two friends, one with substantially more brain balls than him and one with substantially less. Bruno Kirby finally makes good on his first name by playing a middle-aged ladies man who might finally have to settle down. Daniel Stern plays a pussy.

Bruno can sense that, while his big brain balls have given him a pretty decent 3rd puberty, they’re about to run out all the same. Before that happens, it is his male duty to whip his two no brain-ball having buddies into shape while there’s still time. He convinces them to go on extravagantly masculine weekend trips. For instance, the film begins in an alley behind Outback Steakhouse where Bruno’s set-up a mock Running of the Bulls scenario. It doesn’t work out the way he expects, though. Instead of a renewed (for the first time) sense of manliness, Billy Crystal only ends up with a bullhorn up his butthole.

Bruno’s wedding date is fast approaching, so he’s got only one more shot at this. As a Hail Mary, he invites his two buds to a Cowboy Camp out behind a Justin boots store. Daniel Stern’s more up for it than usual because he just found out the girl he’s fucking voices Lisa Simpson. Surprisingly, Billy Crystal is up for it too because his family kicked him out for all this “Hello” bullshit.

So they go to Cowboy Camp and buy brand new Cowboy Clothes and some Cowboy Plastic Lassos. Others arrive as well. Bruno invited his urban dentist (played by Danny Glover) and his urban son (played by Danny Glover). He also invited his favorite ice cream making duo, Choco Slingin’ Niggz (played by Danny Glover and Ric Moranis).

Some professional fake cowboys show up also: two drunk assholes who rock-out to Garth Brook while beating faggots like Chris Gaines. Before all these season-ticket warriors can start exchanging business cards, the real deal shows up: Jack Palance as Curly, a guy so tough he can light a cigarette just by putting it near his testicles. Billy Crystal immediately approaches him with his smart-ass smile. “Helloooo.” Even Robin Williams shakes his head in embarrassment.

The cattle drive begins! After a block or two, Billy Crystal grinds some coffee and all the cows go crazy, killing everyone except Billy Crystal, Curly, and Daniel Stern. Bruno Kirby’s character is alive, too, but in real life his wife shot him so we had to replace him with Jon Lovitz.

Curly’s pretty pissed and asks for some alone time with Billy Crystal. The two go off looking for stray cattle. One of the cows they find is about to burst some calf, so they deliver it and bond over the miracles of life (like ICP), which leads to sex (like NPG). “You city folk,” Jack Palance growls afterward. “You worry about a bunch of bullshit. All that matters is one thing.” Curly extends his index finger. “This thing.” As Billy Crystal contemplates the hidden shallowness of this finger bullshit, Curly cuts his throat with one of the finger’s sharper calluses because a true outdoorsman never gets pinned down to just one gay lover. See? Now your mid-life crisis doesn’t look so bad.

Since he killed Billy Crystal, Curly must now dispatch Daniel Stern and Jon Lovitz and maybe Bruce Villance if he can figure out the LA freeway system. Little does he know, his identical twin, Curly Duke, is there to protect them and end Curly’s reign of frontier terror once and for all.

The two begin a time-honored cowboy fighting tradition. Each do as many one-arm pushups as they can. Whoever wins can shoot the other in the face without repercussion from God. But after only about three or four, they both die of being too fucking old to do one-arm pushups.

Jon Lovitz and Daniel Stern learn their lesson. They go back home feel happy that they’re even alive. You should too, but you don’t. I guess every generation needs their Deliverance.

(three stars)