Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule” is Out (A Tale of Two Movie Reviews)

I’ve always loved movies.

The first movies I remember were when my older sister—for some reason—would take me along when she went to the Drive In. She was probably baby sitting and wanted to get out of the house! Drive Ins were big in Southern California in the late 60s, early 70s.

The first movie I remember was Paint Your Wagon, but I remember nothing about it, except I didn’t like it or understand it. I’ve just been told that Clint Eastwood was in it, but it left no impression on me. Must be because I tend to hate musicals. 

The second movie was Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. It was raw and masculine. I remember it and liked it.

From then on I used to sneak into the movie theater near my house. It had just become a multi-theater (six) complex, so I was in heaven!

At some point I started to watch the “Spaghetti Westerns,” starting with Once Upon a Time in the West, starring Charles Bronson; and then The Dollars Trilogy, starring Clint Eastwood, directed by Sergio Leone, and classicly scored by Ennio Morricone. Again, raw and masculine. I liked them. I liked them a lot!

I’ve liked a whole lot of Clint Eastwood movies. My favorite is Gran Torino. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and rent it. You won’t regret it.

For a period, my favorite movie makers were Clint and Mel Gibson, but I can’t remember a compelling Mel Gibson movie since Apocalypto. And Clint just kept making great movies. So now it’s just Clint.

So I just stumbled on an article that said Clint has released a new movie called The Mule. It’s a true story about a politically incorrect white man in his 80s (Eastwood, who’s returned for perhaps one last shot at acting) who is broke, alone, and facing the foreclosure of his business. He’s offered a job driving, which turns out to be as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel!

Here’s the movie’s trailer.

While growing up I liked to read the newspaper (my family got three at one point, because my older brother was a delivery boy). I loved both the sports and entertainment pages. 

My favorite movie reviews were Robert Hilburn’s in The Los Angeles Times. He was the main critic and movie editor at The Times from 1970 to 2005. He’d really get into these movies, and break them down in various ways. 

I developed a habit of reading movie reviews. 

Even to this day if I hear about a movie, I have a tendency to want to check out a review about it.

When I heard about Clint Eastwood’s new movie, The Mule, I was interested. For one, Gran Torino’s  writer, Nick Schenk, also wrote The Mule. I love good movie writing, and dabbled in it myself for a time.  I was also curious to see what reviewers would say about the new movie, given that Clint is a libertarian with conservative leanings, and everything is so political these days.

Sure enough, I found reviews about the movie written by liberals. But they were different. The first, by David Ehrlich of IndieWire, didn’t hide his bias; yet he was able to put it aside and watch the movie, noting the depth of its message and its artistic merit. He ended up loving it.

The second review was by Leigh Monson of the blog Birth. Movies. Death. Looking at Leigh’s bio and photo, I honestly couldn’t tell if Leigh was a woman or man. Leigh’s Twitter tagline says “Queer. Trans. Enby…” I had to look this up. Per the Urban Dictionary, “enby” means “non binary”— in other words, neither boy nor girl.

In any case, the title of Leigh’s review is The Mule Review: Clint Eastwood’s Long Middle Finger, so I think we can surmise Leigh was going to have issues with the movie. Worse is the subtitle of the review: “Who’s excited for two hours of an old conservative dude telling you to go f*** yourself?”

Okay… Isn’t that nice?

I have not yet seen the movie, but I saw enough in the trailer to make me realize that Clint Eastwood is touching on some powerful, emotional themes, not the least of which is regret for hurting his family while he pursued making movies and money. He deals with issues that transcend politics—issues that anyone should be able to relate to.

It’s mind boggling that someone (like this reviewer) can have a heart so hard that they can’t see the humanity of another person, even while their interest group (and other interest groups like it) demands that others see their humanity. I have no doubt that this “non-binary” reviewer harbors a deep hatred for masculinity, as embodied by Clint Eastwood.

The country singer, Toby Keith, was playing golf recently with Clint Eastwood. When he asked the eighty-eight year old man what keeps him going, Clint said, “I just get up everyday and don’t let the old man in.” So Toby wrote a song with that title for the movie. If you watch this and it doesn’t affect you, then maybe you too have what it takes to write a nasty review about the movie.

There are several other interesting stories regarding people close to Clint Eastwood related to this movie. One is that actress Sondra Locke, who was involved in a long relationship with him, which started after they appeared together in the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales, died just before the release of The Mule.

Another is that Clint’s daughter, Laurie Murray, was acknowledged for the first time as his daughter at the Los Angeles premiere of The Mule. Laurie was reportedly given up for adoption by her mother at birth, and only found out Clint was her father after a search for her biological parents as an adult.

The third story is that Clint’s asked another daughter, actress Alison Eastwood, to come out of retirement to appear with him in The Mule, and she did!

And how’s the movie doing? Not bad at all, earning $6 Million on Friday. That’s his second biggest opening day ever (Gran Torino earned 9.6 Million in 2009).

Clint Eastwood is far from a perfect man. Including Laurie, he has had eight children by six different women. In fact, all eight were at The Mule premiere.

In fact, one thing that is giving his recent movies extra depth is his increasing willingness to reveal his personal failures through his characters.

And despite these failures, Clint still exudes the aura of a man’s man. He is fiercely independent, hard working, and has always refused to march to the beat of someone else’s drum.

To me, he’s the most interesting film maker we have left. He is an American treasure. And we may have seen his last movie—at least as an actor.

But perhaps the most important trait Clint Eastwood carries is his masculinity, and refusal to back away from it, even in this rabidly anti-white man age we find ourselves in.

If America and the West are to be saved, it will be because masculinity refused to die. Long live Clint Eastwood! And long live masculinity!

I welcome your comments.

Patrick Rooney is the Founder of OldSchoolUs.com, a website that believes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Its focus is Health, Success, and Freedom—yeah, in that order. Patrick is the author of GREEK PHYSIQUE: The Simple, Satisfying Way to Sculpt Your Body—Even if You’re Old, Weak, or Broken Down; and is also the creator of Greek Yoga™ and the Greek Yoga for Beginners video. To reach Patrick, email him atinfo@oldschoolus.com.

6 Replies to “Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule” is Out (A Tale of Two Movie Reviews)”

  1. Hi Patrick, haven’t seen the film yet but someone sent me a clip of the film with the music Don’t Let The Old Man In. Loved it. One line in particular about how you would feel if you didn’t know the day you were born? Good to think on that because we are so conditioned to act a certain way and let an old person mentality slip in. The scenes I felt also seemed indicative of how America once was and how it is letting an enemy slip in so it felt kind of reflective in some way on how America was losing something.

    1. Always great to hear from you, Shirley! “Don’t Let the Old Man In”… Yes, thank you, Shirley. It would be nice in many ways if we didn’t know when we were born! And you’re right, we do tend to act out our chronilogical age… As it relates to America, there is no question we’ve let the enemy in, and it was so predictable to those of us who have been watching. We all have our work cut out for us. Best to you, Shirley!

  2. Thank you for the review of the reviews Patrick. I am looking forward to seeing this. By the way, I’ll meet you and watch it with you! Apocalypto was incredible. I was about to go to bed late one night and the movie started and I could not stop watching. I enjoyed Gran Torino as well. Good job on the review of the reviews.

    1. Thanks, Wayne, glad you liked! Ok, you’re on! And yes, Apocalypto was an eye-opener. Talk about raw! Mel really needs to go back to making movies like this… and what can I say about Gran Torino? See it, people!

  3. “Mind boggling” that an agendaed liberal scribbler can be so unhingedly vicious and vile in a movie review? Really?

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