What an ironic movie to be sitting right near a teenage girl who decides to text on her cell phone for the majority of the movie (including during the part at the beginning where Eastwood gets annoyed with his teenage granddaughter for texting at an inappropriate time). Gran Torino tells the story of the incredibly grumpy and racist Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), a Korean War vet who lives in the past. After his wife passes away, he’s left alone with his dog in a ghetto filling up with Hmong families. But when his shy young neighbor Thao (Bee Vang) tries to steal his prized 1972 Gran Torino in order to fit in with his cousin’s gang and is later saved by Walt from the same gang, Walt’s relationship with the rest of the neighborhood begins to change, primarily with Thao and his sister Sue (Ahney Her). Also on Walt’s case is the young priest at his local church, Father Janovich (Christopher Carley).
Let me simply start out by giving the only real negative comment I have of the movie: the acting, for the most part, was pretty bad. The only two who give a pretty good performance are Eastwood and John Carroll Lynch as his barber (who is in all of two scenes), and even Eastwood’s performance is basically him flaunting his good ‘ol days to his Dirty Harry fans. I’ve read other negative comments on the film, such as it is no deeper than its surface level, and while that’s true, I’m not going to say that’s negative. Even if it is only surface deep, I still enjoyed it immensely for what it was. So let’s get on to the rest of the review.
This movie was so much funnier than I expected. I read that the character would make you laugh, but I didn’t expect how much. This movie should have been advertised more as a vulgar comedy than a gritty drama. And it is rather vulgar. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this many racial slurs in one movie, and that includes both American History X and Clerks 2 (the whole scene where Randall’s “bringin’ it back.”). It’s a very politically incorrect film, so if you’re easily offended, stay away.
I think the movie takes its time to get to its plot, but that didn’t really bother me, because the relationships between Walt and the other characters was equally entertaining as the one between Walt and Thao. Okay, so I lied. I did have one other small negative thing to say about the film. The transition for Walt seems slightly forced to me. To go from a lifetime of racism and hatred to eating barbeque and having a good time with his neighbors in such a short span, and only because he gave one of them a ride home? It seemed a bit far fetched. But I went with it anyway.
But anyway, I thought it was a really good film. It was highly entertaining, even if it made you shake your head while you were laughing at all the politically incorrectness. I don’t think it was the best film of the year as so many have said, but I don’t think it was as bad as some of the naysayers have said, either. With a little more polish and a much better cast (specifically for Thao and Sue), I think this movie could have been outstanding. But because of those few little clunks (wow, I almost made and incredibly accidental racial slip there), it fell just short. But still, it was a really, really good film overall.
A Keanu 'Whoa'
(P.S. What the hell was with that song at the end? Clint Eastwood needs to never... ever sing again, especially a song with lame lyrics).