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Gran Torino

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Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino - About Much More Than a Car.

Jan 27, 2009 (Updated Jan 27, 2009)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Bang For The Buck

Pros:Comedy, drama, action, and more in one package.

Cons:It shoulda been nominated for an Oscar.

The Bottom Line: I LOVED this movie. 


I will openly admit that I was dragged into Grand Torino kicking and screaming after we accidentally arrived at the wrong theater in an attempt to see Slumdog Millionaire. For some reason, I had the idea that this would be about cars, and shooting, with Clint Eastwood in a very traditional, uninteresting action hero role. Not so! Grand Torino turns out to be a fun, funny, touching, and tragic film that is easily better than anything I saw in 2008.

Plot Information
Grumpy Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) has recently lost his wife and finds himself all alone in his rapidly declining neighborhood with only his golden lab and his 1972 Gran Torino for company. Through a series of unfortunate events and somewhat against his will, Walt finds himself befriended by his next-door neighbors the Lors, a Hmong family. Much of the film focuses on the growing relationship between Walt and the two teenage Lors, spunky Sue (Ahney Her) and shy, directionless Thao (Bee Vang), who is desperate to avoid following in the footsteps of his gang-banger cousin Spider (Doua Moua).

My Thoughts
This is an example of a film which combines an excellent story with top-notch acting to produce fabulous results. Seriously, Gran Torino is SO GOOD! Predictably, Eastwood carries the show, giving audiences a character they have likely never seen before. The cast of supporting characters isn't half bad either, despite the notable lack of big names here. Christopher Carley is brilliant as the naïve, wet behind the ears Father Janovich. I liked this challenging character because it gave me insight into how others might view young adults like myself who are new to their chosen trade or profession. Eastwood's son Scott is kind of brilliant in his minor role as a complete putz who wants to be a tough guy. Finally, Vang and Her are literal acting virgins and while their lack of experience shows at some moments, so does their sincerity.

Surprisingly, Grand Torino is very, very funny. I laughed out loud at least a half-dozen times and so did the other audience members at my showing. Eastwood's character is initially off-putting and offensive with his racial and ethnic slurs until one realizes that he hates people of all ages, races, and ethnicities equally. Then he manages to become endearing and hilarious despite still being somewhat of a jerk. The scenes between Walt and his long-time barber are particular side-splitters.

As funny as it is, Gran Torino also manages to be equally thought-provoking. The film touches on major issues including father-son relationships, violence, and racial prejudice. It's a bit like 2006 Best Picture winner "Crash" but less-contrived, more enjoyable, and arguably a much better film. Gran Torino has some lessons to share, but manages to do so while still entertaining and without being preachy. I honestly have no idea why Eastwood didn't manage to snag a single Oscar nomination when the dismal Benjamin Button walked away with thirteen, but I guess that's usually how it goes.

I should end my thoughts with a word of warning - this movie is patently offensive.  Nothing is really gratuitous but if you are particularly sensitive about profanity or violence it's possible you won't enjoy this movie as much as I did.

Overall . . .
Gran Torino will almost certainly meet or exceed any expectations you have going in. I laughed, I cried (okay, I at least teared up), and I was completely won over by Eastwood's lovably unlikable character. Whether or not you're an Eastwood fan, Gran Torino is certainly worth seeing.


Recommend this product? Yes

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