Review: A man. A boy. And a chicken. 'Cry Macho' lays an egg
Last year, Tom Hanks and George Clooney each took on film roles in which they showed their paternal side by looking after a child. Apparently there's something in the water in Hollywood because it's time for Clint Eastwood this month.
The former Dirty Harry directs and plays a crocheted old cowboy who has to transport a teenager from Mexico to America in "Cry Macho", an aimless and sometimes terrifying film. But it has perhaps the best performance of a rooster in modern film history.
The film is apparently meant to be a meditation on masculinity, with Eastwood's former rodeo star Mike Milo taming and transforming his young rebellious attack into an honorable young man. Instead, it's a meditation on awkward and predictable filmmaking.
The script by Nick Schenk and the late N. Richard Nash is based on Nash's book. Schenk is the film's leading Eastwood interpreter and has previously written for the icon with “Gran Torino” and “The Mule”. Eastwood, now 91, is in the place he has found himself so many times: a gruff, honorable loner with a heart of gold.
The year is 1979 and the honorable loner - a widower of course - still shows up at the rodeo to work at 90 until his boss fires him. “You are not a loss to anyone. It's time for the next generation, ”says his employer, played by Dwight Yoakam.
A year later, the same boss inexplicably asks Mike a favor: Get my son out of the clutches of my wicked ex-wife in Mexico and bring him to me. Soon Eastwood will be heading south, rolling there in an old car.
It turns out that the ex-wife (Fernanda Urrejola, exaggerating) is an unbalanced gang boss who both laughs at this curious visitor and, strangely enough, wants him to bed. "You think you're the first one my ex-husband sent?" She mocks him.
Eastwood's character finds the boy - did you doubt it? - but the teenager is a little confused psychologically. One tell-tale sign is that he overly likes a fighting cock, which he called macho and carries around all over the place.
The boy, Rafo, shows signs of physical abuse, but the filmmakers bring up the problem without actually confronting it. The boy and the rooster tend to be weird when the boy says to the old man, “You're getting too angry. It's not good for you your age. "The Rooster, however, expresses his emotions and defends his loved one with a whirl of feathers and kisses; he should have his own movie franchise.
The dialogue here is stilted, as if it matched the sleek harshness of Eastwood's preferred loner. "Can I wear your hat?" asks the boy. "No," says Eastwood. "Why not?" asks the boy. “Because it's a cowboy hat. And you're not a cowboy, ”is the answer.
Eduardo Minett plays the teenager with varying degrees of success and is unable to get the killer lines about his lazy past like "I don't trust anyone on the street. But it's safer than at home." Eastwood's part gets less grumpy: "You're kind of growing on me, child."
But the worst dialogue gets an unfathomable love interest, portrayed by Natalia Traven, who plays a feisty widow who has to say things like: “You are a good man. I hope you know that. "It's all pretty awkward. When the couple are dancing it looks like they're holding up a fragile Eastwood in case it should fall.
Anyway, Eastwood's character and the boy are soon stranded in a dusty Mexican town. The older man begins to take care of the city dwellers' animals because he seems to be aware of basic biology and also teaches the boy to be a cowboy. In one queasy scene, Eastwood's stunt double apparently breaks into a Mustang. How do we know it's a stunt double? Eastwood has trouble walking when riding a bucking, growling horse.
"Cry Macho" then deviates from its road movie premise and becomes a romantic comedy. Eastwood is thriving in this Mexican city, repairing jukeboxes, reading stories to children, and apparently a hot tamale for widows. He and the boy talk about life, religion and what it means to be strong. But it's not clear what anyone has learned about manhood and the movie ends up sour.
At one point Eastwood's character says to the boy, "This macho thing is overrated." To which the audience will likely say: Totally.
"Cry Macho," a Warner Bros. Pictures release, received a PG-13 rating for language and thematic elements. It hits theaters on Friday and HBO. Max. Running time: 104 minutes. One star out of four.
MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents Strongly Warned. Some materials may not be suitable for children under the age of 13.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
In this article:
N. Richard Nash
American actor and producer
Director, animator, designer, writer
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