"Do Right by Your Family"
What You Need To Know:
THE MULE is beautifully directed by Clint Eastwood, who also delivers one of his best performances. As played by Clint, Earl is a funny rascal with serious family issues. Eventually, Earl chooses to do the right thing in a moment of personal crisis for him and his family. As a result, some strong, touching moral, redemptive lessons are taught. That said, THE MULE has lots of strong foul language, some lewd scenes and explicit nudity in two scenes. Extreme caution is advised.
THE MULE, starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, is a story about an elderly man, estranged from his family, who loses his specialized flower company and gets involved running drugs for a powerful Mexican drug cartel. THE MULE is Eastwood’s best movie since GRAN TORINO, features a wonderful performance by Clint and teaches valuable, touching lessons about putting your family first, but there’s lots of strong foul language, a few lewd scenes and brief explicit nudity.
Opening in 2005, the first act introduces viewers to an elderly Illinois man named Earl Stone. Earl has a flower nursery where he focuses on growing and selling daylilies, a perennial plant whose flowers only bloom for 24 hours before they wither. Earl has won many awards for his work with daylilies and travels a lot promoting and selling them. Earl’s commitment to his work has come with a cost. His wife of 10 years divorced him long ago. The divorce enables Earl to be somewhat of a ladies man. At a hotel bar celebration of his latest award at his latest convention, Earl suddenly remembers he promised his daughter, a single mother, that he would come to her wedding, but he shrugs it off and stays with his friends. Needless to say, when he doesn’t come, his daughter is extremely angry.
Twelve years later, Earl’s daughter wants nothing to do with him. She’s tried to cut him off from his granddaughter, Ginny, but Ginny stays in touch with him. She’s invited Earl to attend her own wedding engagement announcement, and Earl has decided to go, because he’s just lost his nursery and business to Internet competition.
When Earl suddenly shows up at the granddaughter’s party, his ex-wife and angry daughter figure out what’s happening, and they get into an obscenity-laced argument with Earl, who dishes it out as strongly as they do. One of the guests, a Hispanic man named Rico, overhears the argument about Earl losing his precious business. He leaves Earl a phone number to contact if he’d like to make some easy money doing some special driving. Of course, the job is being the Illinois transporter, or mule, for a powerful Mexican drug cartel.
Earl likes to drive, and the drug money is very nice. So, Earl enjoys his new job a little too much. He becomes the cartel owner, Laton’s, favorite mule. Laton even invites Earl to party with him at Laton’s fancy estate in Mexico.
However, the other members of Laton’s gang don’t like Earl’s loosey goosey style and special stops along the way to grab a bite to eat at his favorite watering holes or visit friends. Also, Chicago’s federal drug agent in charge of drug bust investigations, Special Agent Colin Bates, has found an informant and is closing in on the details of Laton’s drug transportation program. Ironically, Earl’s penchant for not sticking to the cartel’s schedule helps him avoid detection, but it’s only a matter of time before Bates catches up to the cartel’s most successful drug mule.
How will Earl get caught? Will he ever be able to reconcile with his family? These two questions become closely tied together as the movie reaches its conclusion.
THE MULE is beautifully directed by Clint Eastwood, who also delivers one of his best performances as Earl. The other actors do a great job, but THE MULE is clearly Clint’s movie. As played by Clint, Earl’s friendly, lackadaisical approach to his business associates, whether it be his friends in the flower business or his new friends in the drug business, is pretty funny. However, it’s clear that the problems Earl has had with his family are serious, profound and sad. The good news is that Earl tries to fix the problems, even though he’s constantly rebuffed by his ex-wife and daughter. Too much water has gone under the bridge for them.
Eventually, though, Earl chooses to do the right thing in a moment of personal crisis for him and his family. So, THE MULE ends with some strong Christian and very strong moral lessons about putting your family first, making sure you don’t neglect your family, facing up to the wrongs you’ve done, making amends to those you’ve hurt, doing the right thing (especially when it counts the most), accepting guilt, and realizing that your actions have consequences. These positive lessons are well integrated into the script and the movie. The symbolism involving the flowers and Earl’s incompetence as a family man is also powerful. Earl tries to buy his friends’ and family’s affection with his illicit drug money, but he eventually realizes it was an empty gesture.
That said, THE MULE has lots of strong foul language. In addition to the movie’s drug references, THE MULE contains a few lewd scenes and explicit female nudity in two scenes. Consequently, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution. The violence is rather subdued, except for a scene involving a man suddenly being shot dead in the chest.