[Screen It]


(2021) (Clint Eastwood, Eduardo Minett) (PG-13)

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Drama: An old man travels to Mexico to find and return his former boss' 13-year-old son to Texas.

It's 1979, and Mike Milo (CLINT EASTWOOD) is a former rodeo star and recently fired horse trainer who's asked by his former boss, Howard Polk (DWIGHT YOAKAM), to travel from Texas to Mexico to retrieve that man's 13-year-old son, Rafael (EDUARDO MINETT), who lives in Mexico City with his mom, Leta (FERNANDA URREJOLA). Mike isn't crazy about the idea, but feels he needs to pay back Howard for essentially saving his life following the accidental death of his wife and their son. And after hearing that the boy is allegedly being abused, he agrees and sets off in his old, beat-up vehicle.

It doesn't take him long to find Leta, but she claims she doesn't know where her son is, that he hates her, and that he's a monster who's into criminal activities including cockfighting. Mike indeed finds him at one such event, and after informing the boy that his father wants him to live on his Texas ranch with him, Rafael agrees to go with him. But after Mike turns down Leta's amorous advances, she changes her mind about allowing Mike to take the boy and sends her goons after both.

From that point on, and trying to elude them and the Federales, Mike and Rafael somewhat bond, albeit in a haphazard way, all while accepting the kindness of others, including widowed restaurant owner Marta (NATALIA TRAVEN) who's soon sweet on Mike and vice-versa.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

I've gotten to the age range where things I was used to in the past are no longer certainties and often have the reverse effect of what was originally intended. As a younger man, I enjoyed riding roller coasters. Now, I'm likely to either throw out my back on one or suffer from motion sickness. And while I was no George Clooney, in my younger days I could draw the eyes of at least some ladies. Now, younger women view me like any other inanimate object that might be in their field of view. I might as well be a picnic table. With a bad back. And feeling nauseous. At the ripe old age of fifty-seven.

All of that came to mind while watching Clint Eastwood's latest film, "Cry Macho," where he both stars and directs. While the not-so-subtle message of the flick is the fallacy and wasted effort of parading around as a macho dude, Eastwood -- working from Nick Schenk's screenplay adaptation of N. Richard Nash 1975 novel of the same name -- can't help but do some strutting to prove he's still got it after ninety-one laps around that big bright thing in the sky.

Although it's not quite as creepy as watching Woody Allen directing himself in his later career still as the ladies man who entices younger women, Eastwood does have a woman probably half his age try to bed him (he declines) while another more subtly makes the moves on him. He also does some brief bronco busting (oh the lumbar horror) and even punches a much younger guy in the face without breaking any delicate hand bones. All while appearing well, fairly aged from a stooped over, physical standpoint.

It doesn't help when the film starts off in the clunkiest of ways where forced dialogue is clumsily delivered in explaining that Eastwood's character -- former rodeo star and now washed-up horse trainer Mike Milo -- hasn't been the same since "the accident" and his subsequent boozing and pill-popping. Despite that and being fired for being late, his now-former boss (a stiff Dwight Yoakum) shows up wanting Mike to travel from Texas to Mexico to find his 13-year-old son (Eduardo Minett) who lives with his mother (Fernanda Urrejola) and who he hasn't seen since he was six.

Other than knowing that Mike owes him for employing him years ago during his downward spiral, it's an odd choice for an extraction mission. Chris Hemsworth? Sure. Tom Cruise? You bet. But the Man With No Name in his current chronological condition? Well, good luck with that choice.

Anyway, the age discrepancy is done on purpose so that we can watch the mismatched age pair eventually bond after initially clashing, only to have the inevitable third-act falling out followed by some reconciliation. Throw in the crazy mom's goon and some Federales and we're supposed to have some suspense added to the heart-tugging moments that also stem from Mike's interaction with widowed restaurant owner Marta (Natalia Traven) and her grandchildren.

While the film has some nice moments scattered here and there, for the most part, this is a clunker pretty much any way you look at it. Eastwood's character, both as written and how he plays him, feels off, sometimes bordering on a caricature of his past iconic roles. Big screen newcomer Minett is understandably sometimes a bit rough around the edges when it comes to his performance, but at least Traven feels genuine.

I wish I could say the same about the film, but it feels both calculated in terms of its story beats and too laid back when it comes to executing them. When the most interesting character is a cockfighting rooster named Macho, you know the film has likely laid an egg. And thus while "Cry Macho" might stroke Eastwood's aged ego, it likely won't have anyone who's seen it clamoring to do so again. The film rates as a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed September 13, 2021 / Posted September 17, 2021

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