‘Cry Macho’ – A Pale Rider

“Cry Macho” is directed by, and stars, Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood as Mike Milo, a washed up rodeo star sent by his former boss and benefactor to retrieve the latter’s son from Mexico in the late 1970’s.

Pro – Pleasant

So much of “Cry Macho” is a pleasant film. The setting of 1970’s Mexico is dusty, but incredibly charming in a hazy, dream-like way. Mike, having wasted much of his life after a devastating rodeo injury and the more devastating tragic loss of his wife and son, is tasked to head down to Mexico and find his former employer Howard Polk’s (Dwight Yoakam) son. Polk’s son, Rafo, lives with his mother in Mexico city, but Polk believes he is being mistreated and wants the boy to move to Texas to live with him. Polk sends Mike because he trusts him, and because Mike owes him.

The story is a smash-up of classic tropes: the reflections of an old man, the bonding of two different souls united on the road, and the kindness of strangers. “Cry Macho” meanders through these tropes and the journey at a whimsical pace. It’s never very exciting, but it is enjoyable.

Con – The Man with no Cane

The cast is really great. Eduardo Minett does an admirable job as Rafo, the 13-year-old son of Polk, who trusts no one and would rather spend his time on the streets than in his mom’s mansion. Natalie Traven plays Marta, a small town café owner who shows the guys kindness on the road. The screen lights up with her smile every time she appears. Dwight Yoakam is awesome Howard Polk, a seemingly good-hearted but sleazy rodeo owner who always seems just a bit off of center. The main attraction of course is Eastwood. The Hollywood legend has starred in north of 75 films in his 91 years on earth.

The biggest problem with “Cry Macho” is Eastwood simply looks too old. As someone who considers Eastwood in his top three favorite actors of all time, its sad to say, but Eastwood simply looks and moves like a 90-year-old man. He doesn’t seem healthy enough to send to the store for a bag of horse feed, let alone to drive to Mexico City in search of a boy. 10 years ago, it would have been a great role for him, but now it simply isn’t.

Con – what?

“Cry Macho” has the bones of a good story. The problem is it just doesn’t track well. It’s pleasant like a summer daydream, but it’s also incoherent like one. It’s easy enough to see what the film is going for, but what happens, why it happens, and the questions left unanswered leave the audience feeling a bit confused. It seems that the moments are more important than the full journey, but the story just feels too foggy to really track.

“Cry Macho” is a nice film. It has a good heart, a great cast, and a pleasant change from the loudness of modern cinema. That said, Eastwood is simply too old to be convincing in the role, and the film itself feels like it’s either half-baked or too much exposition was left on the cutting room floor. It’s not the glorious ride off into the sunset Clint Eastwood deserves (that was “Gran Torino”) but it’s probably the send he will get. You can check this one out at the Fridley Palms Theater.