Cry Macho (film)

Cry Macho is a 2021 American neo-Western drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. Adapted by Nick Schenk, it is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by N. Richard Nash. The plot follows a former rodeo star (Eastwood) who is hired to reunite a young man (Eduardo Minett) in Mexico with his father (Dwight Yoakam) in the United States.

Cry Macho
The film's logo above Clint Eastwood in a cowboy hat and the tagline: "A story about being lost... and found."
Theatrical release poster
Directed byClint Eastwood
Screenplay by
Based onCry Macho
by N. Richard Nash
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyBen Davis
Edited by
Music byMark Mancina
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • September 17, 2021 (2021-09-17)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$33 million
Box office$4.7 million

Attempts to adapt the novel into a feature film have featured a variety of actors in negotiations to star. In 2011, Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast in the film but production was canceled after a scandal. In 2020, it was announced Eastwood would create an adaptation with Albert S. Ruddy, Tim Moore, and Jessica Meier attached as producers. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, production took place in New Mexico with cinematographer Ben Davis. During post-production, the score was composed by Mark Mancina.

Cry Macho was theatrically released in the United States on September 17, 2021, by Warner Bros. Pictures with a simultaneous release on the HBO Max streaming service for 31 days. It underperformed at the box office, grossing $4.7 million against a $33 million production budget, and was met with mixed reviews from critics. It received criticism towards its screenplay and praise for the scenery and score. Eastwood's performance and the film's tone received a polarized response.

PlotEdit

By 1979, Texan rodeo star Mike Milo has retired due to a severe back injury. The following year, his former boss Howard Polk hires him to travel to Mexico City and bring back Howard's 13-year-old son, Rafo. He agrees and upon entering Mexico, he meets his mother Leta, who tells him that Rafo has turned to a life of crime, participating in cockfights with a rooster named Macho. Soon after, Mike finds Rafo participating in a cockfight that is interrupted by a police raid. After the police depart, Mike tells Rafo that his father wants to see him. Intrigued with the possibility of seeing his father's ranch, Rafo agrees to go with Mike back to Texas and leaves to pack his stuff.

A drunk Leta tells Mike that she wants her son to stay in Mexico and threatens him. After Mike leaves, Leta orders several of her henchmen to follow him. Driving back to Texas alone, Mike discovers that Rafo has snuck onto his truck. When Rafo steals his wallet and shares his desire to spend time with his father, Mike agrees to drive him to the border. During the drive there, the pair shares stories about their lives, including how Leta's henchmen used to abuse Rafo, and discuss the meaning of being "macho."

At a restaurant, Mike phones Howard and tells him that he has found Rafo. Outside of the restaurant, one of Leta's henchmen, Aurelio, tries to forcefully take Rafo and lies to the locals that Mike has kidnapped him. Rafo tells the locals that this is not true and they beat up Aurelio. After Mike and Rafo leave, the pair have their truck stolen by thieves. However, they soon find an abandoned car to use. At a cafe, the pair meets Marta, who agrees to let them stay for the night after they notice that several police officers are searching for them. The following day, Mike learns that Rafo has become friends with Marta after telling her the truth.

Continuing their journey, Mike tells Rafo that he lost his wife and children to a car accident. The following morning, Marta finds them in a shrine and brings them breakfast. Mike and Rafo then notice that the car they found has a leak and they are forced to leave it. After coming across a ranch, Mike teaches Rafo how to ride a horse and shows his love for animals. The pair returns to Marta's cafe and begins spending time with her family. They also begin to spend time at the ranch and Howard calls Mike, expressing his concern that Mike has been in Mexico for two weeks. After a few days, the pair say goodbye to Marta and start their final drive to the border.

With a new vehicle, the pair stops after noticing a patrol car following them. Mike reveals that Howard told him over the phone that he wants to see Rafo simply to battle Leta in court for her money. An angry Rafo tries to leave but the police find them and search their vehicle. When they find nothing, the police officers leave and the pair continues their journey. While driving, Mike tells Rafo that being "macho" is overrated and encourages him to make his own decisions in life. Rafo says he still wants to be with his father. Aurelio then finds them, runs them off the road, and holds them at gunpoint. However, Macho jumps at him and Mike steals his gun. The pair then use Aurelio's car to make it to the border. As a final goodbye, Rafo gives Macho to Mike before reuniting with his father. Mike remains on the Mexican side of the border and returns to Marta.

CastEdit

BackgroundEdit

 
Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally cast in a Cry Macho adaptation in 2011

N. Richard Nash's Macho was a screenplay rejected twice by 20th Century Fox in the 1970s.[1] As a result, he reworked the material into a novel and published it as Cry Macho on June 11, 1975.[2] After receiving positive reviews for the novel, Nash pitched the screenplay again, claiming that he did it without changing a word, and sold it to Fox and several other studios before his death in 2000.[3]

Producer Albert S. Ruddy is noted for trying to adapt the novel into a feature film ever since it was first published.[4] In 1988, Ruddy gave Clint Eastwood the opportunity to star.[5] Eastwood instead opted out to reprise his role as Dirty Harry in The Dead Pool while offering to direct, and suggested Robert Mitchum for the role.[6] In 1991, filming began in Mexico with Roy Scheider as the lead but production was never completed.[7][8] Following failed attempts with Burt Lancaster and Pierce Brosnan,[9][10] Arnold Schwarzenegger was given the option in 2003 of starring in either a Westworld remake or a Cry Macho adaptation.[11] After picking the latter, Schwarzenegger was advised by Ruddy to put the project on hold when he was elected the governor of California.[12][13] In 2011, he announced he would star in Cry Macho, with filming set to begin in New Mexico and Brad Furman attached to direct.[14][15] However, the project was canceled shortly after Schwarzenegger's divorce with Maria Shriver, following a scandal revealing he had fathered a son a decade earlier with an employee in their household.[16][17]

ProductionEdit

 
Director, producer, and actor Clint Eastwood

In October 2020, it was reported that Eastwood would produce, direct, and star in Cry Macho for Warner Bros. Pictures, using Nash's screenplay with additional contributions by Nick Schenk, who previously worked with Eastwood on Gran Torino (2008) and The Mule (2018).[18][19] Principal photography began on November 4, 2020, in Albuquerque, New Mexico,[20] with cinematographer Ben Davis.[21] Filming in the state moved to Socorro County on November 16 and concluded on November 30.[22] In December 2020, filming took place in Belen, New Mexico, with the Montaño's Family Restaurant there being turned into a cafe for the shoot.[23] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, crew members had to follow various safety protocols like social distancing, wearing masks, and being tested for the virus on a daily basis while working on set.[23]

The film was shot on a $33 million budget.[24] Filming concluded on December 15, 2020, a day ahead of schedule.[23][20] That same month, it was revealed Eduardo Minett would star opposite Eastwood with Dwight Yoakam, Natalia Traven, Fernanda Urrejola, and Horacio Garcia Rojas in supporting roles.[25][26] According to the New Mexico State Film Office, filming locations also included the counties of Bernalillo, Sandoval, Sierra, and Valencia.[27] It was also reported that the project had employed 250 crew members, 10 supporting cast members, and over 600 background extras from New Mexico, and that Ana Rey and Paul Lincoln Alayo would also star.[27][28] During post-production, editing was completed by Joel and David Cox, with the musical score being composed by Mark Mancina.[29] The soundtrack album was released by WaterTower Music on September 10, 2021, and features an original song titled Find a New Home written by Mancina and performed by Will Banister.[30]

In an interview, Eastwood recalled several aspects of the production, including rehiring a young cast member who had received a false positive for the coronavirus and the many difficulties of filming scenes with Macho, the rooster in the film, who was played by 11 birds. He also noted that the film features him riding a horse, an activity he last did on film for Unforgiven in 1992, and said the wrangler was worried. When asked about acting at the age of 90 and rejecting the role in 1988, Eastwood said he "always thought I'd go back and look at that. It was something I had to grow into. One day, I just felt it was time to revisit it. It's fun when something's your age, when you don't have to work at being older."[6]

Release and marketingEdit

Cry Macho was theatrically released in the United States on September 17, 2021, by Warner Bros. Pictures with a simultaneous release on the HBO Max streaming service for 31 days. The film was originally set to premiere on October 22,[31] but was pushed forward as a result of a release date shuffle with Dune and The Many Saints of Newark.[32] The film will open the 2021 Tokyo International Film Festival on October 30, 2021.[33]

The marketing campaign for Cry Macho began on August 5, 2021, when two sets of "first look" images, a theatrical release poster, and a trailer were released. In a statement, Eastwood said the film was about a man who "starts his life over again."[34][35][36] Reactions to the trailer were positive; while Empire's James White and Variety's Ethan Shanfeld said it examined the meaning of machismo,[37][38] William Hughes from The A.V. Club wrote that it expressed "more heartwarming elements—advice, definitions of masculinity, cockfighting—while focusing on the relationship between Eastwood and the kid he's maybe, kind of, sort of kidnapped."[39]

In late August, representatives from Warner Bros. Pictures discussed at CinemaCon how the studio would release its films in the future, said they had "found a way to make it work," and presented a pre-recorded hour-long reel showcasing their upcoming projects, which included the trailer for Cry Macho and a special tribute piece for Eastwood.[40] In September, several featurettes with a focus on Eastwood's career were released, featuring several clips from Cry Macho and Eastwood's filmography alongside recorded messages from producers Albert S. Ruddy and Tim Moore as well as John Lee Hancock, Steven Spielberg, Mel Gibson, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Gene Hackman, George Lucas, and Martin Scorsese.[41][42][43] In their review of the footage, Eric Vespe from /Film said, "As far as the movie it is promoting is concerned, I can't say I'm more or less excited to see it, but as a film fan, I do appreciate that we're showing Clint Eastwood the love and appreciation he deserves while he's still with us. There is something about seeing Eastwood in a cowboy hat, sitting on a horse, that just feels right, you know? It's no wonder that so much real estate is dedicated to that aspect of his new movie in this clever bit of marketing."[44] Yahoo! News wrote that "it [is] safe to say that Eastwood fans will feel all kinds of emotions when they see him back in the saddle."[45] After the film was released, however, Forbes said Cry Macho was going to flop at the box office because "the marketing allure of 'See Clint Eastwood onscreen ... one last time' was going to wear off."[46]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

As of September 19, 2021, Cry Macho has grossed $4.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $256,000 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $4.7 million.[47][48]

Cry Macho received a wide release in 3,967 theaters alongside Copshop on September 17, 2021.[49] Box office analytics from Variety and TheWrap estimated that it would gross between $5–10 million in its opening weekend;[24][50] Boxoffice Pro predicted a $1–5 million opening and $2–15 million total gross in the United States and Canada.[51] Analytics also predicted older male demographics would most likely stream the film on HBO Max and would go see it in theaters only if it received positive word of mouth, with Comscore analytic Paul Dergarabedian writing, "This is yet another test of the hybrid model with its own twist. While the theatrical model is generally better for bigger blockbusters, Cry Macho could get a serious boost from HBO Max given that the audience it is aiming for is still showing reluctance in showing up to theaters."[50][51]

The film made $1.6 million on its first day, $1.7 million on its second, and $1.2 million in its third for a $4.4 million opening weekend and a per theater average of $1,115.[52] It placed third behind Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in its third weekend and Free Guy in its sixth. Audiences were 79% over the age of 35, 51% female, and 66% Caucasian, 14% Latino, 8% Black, and 12% Asian or other. The analytics firm EntTelligence reports older patrons saw the film in theaters early in the afternoon, with 88% of all audiences showing up before 8:00 pm. Additionally, early screenings cost an average of $10.77 per ticket, less than the $13 average for the limited releases of Blue Bayou and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.[49][53] Cry Macho also made $256,000 during its opening weekend in 585 theaters across 18 foreign markets for a $4.7 million worldwide total.[a] Variety describes the film's poor performance at the box office as being similar to recent releases from Warner Bros. Pictures during the COVID-19 pandemic such as Reminiscence and Malignant.[56]

According to Samba TV, which measures its results from 3 million households and only counts a view if the film was watched for at least 5 minutes, Cry Macho was streamed on HBO Max in 693,000 households, tying with In the Heights. Online audiences were generally over the age of 65 and 35% Hispanic.[57]

Critical responseEdit

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, which categorizes reviews only as positive or negative, 56% of 114 reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Cry Macho proves Clint Eastwood remains an economic filmmaker and charismatic screen presence – albeit one who's an awkward fit for this particular project."[58] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 60 out of 100 based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[59] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 73% of audience members gave it a positive score.[49]

Several aspects of Cry Macho received a polarized response, including its tone, themes, and execution. Variety's Owen Gleiberman praised Eastwood's direction and noted that the film avoided raising the stakes by keeping the story simple "in an inoffensive and good-natured way."[60] Glenn Kenny, writing for RogerEbert.com, gave the film three stars and a half out of four, lauding it for its cinematography and second act, where "small events transpire in beautifully shot, unhurried scenes. The simple sincerity about what's worthwhile in life is the movie's reason for being. Nothing more and nothing less."[61] From The New York Times, A. O. Scott found it to be a "hangout movie with nothing much to prove and just enough to say," gave positive feedback to the film's score and scenery, and wrote about Eastwood, "If the old man's driving, my advice is to get in and enjoy the ride."[62]

Nick Schenk's screenplay received generally negative reviews and was called "weak" by CNN's Brian Lowry and G. Allen Johnson from the San Francisco Chronicle.[63][64] In a mixed review, David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter described it as "the kind of movie where, rather than let the audience observe the gradual development of a mutual understanding, we get Eastwood's Mike Milo spelling it out."[65] From the Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang wrote that the film's themes tackling machismo were well-supported by the performances of the leads but said the story was repetitive and too similar to Gran Torino and The Mule.[66] The Guardian's Benjamin Lee gave the film two stars out of five, writing that it consists of "scene after scene of nothing, not a funny line or a moving moment or an unresolved conflict, just nothing."[67] The New Yorker's Richard Brody added that "the movie's heartening adventure gets its retrospective, tall-tale air from its implication of narrow, quasi-miraculous escapes, from the very suggestion of its implausibility."[68]

Eastwood's role in the film also divided critics. Vulture's Bilge Ebiri said filmgoers would enjoy Eastwood's presence because of his filmography and added, "The picture doesn't always work, but it works when it has to. The same could be said for its star. Somehow, when we look at Mike, we don't see Eastwood the 91-year-old actor, but Clint the icon — not so much ageless as preserved in weathered glory, cinema's forever haunted cowboy."[69] The Atlantic's David Sims praised Eastwood's charm and use of the film to reflect on his career, writing that the actor has "tended toward bluntness, casting a baleful eye over his career while telling a tale of a man who still has more to learn."[70] Oliver Jones from The New York Observer disagreed and said Cry Macho would disappoint filmgoers, leaving them with "wistful memories of what once was."[71]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ It was originally reported that the film had made an estimated $350,000 outside of the United States and Canada.[54][55] Updated statistics from Box Office Mojo and The Numbers report $256,000.[47][48]

ReferencesEdit

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