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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.5%
Worth A Look: 27.5%
Just Average: 15%
Pretty Crappy: 11.25%

4 reviews, 56 user ratings

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Gran Torino
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Clint is the movie. There's really not much else."
3 stars

It’s funny how nobody really seems to be in "Gran Torino" except Clint Eastwood.

Oh, there’s dependable character actor John Carroll Lynch in a caustically funny three-scene bit as Clint’s barber. And there are various Hmong people as Clint’s neighbors, and some Americans as his disappointing family. But really there’s only Clint Eastwood, in what is said to be his swan song as an actor, as the irascible Korean War vet Walt Kowalski. Having retired from his auto-factory job and recently buried his wife, Walt pretty much hates everything except his ol’ dawg Daisy. He squints. He scowls. He growls. He waves guns around. The movie would be nowhere, absolutely nowhere, without Clint Eastwood.

This is a different case from, say, The Wrestler, which is inconceivable without Mickey Rourke but has a lot of other things going for it. Gran Torino has a script (by Nick Schenk, from a story by Schenk and Dave Johannson) that seems slavishly tailored to Clint’s mannerisms and range and iconic persona. It’s also the sort of amateurishly basic scenario that would’ve been laughed out of the offices of the notoriously schlocky Cannon Films in the ‘80s. The next-door Hmong kid Thao (Bee Vang) is intimidated by his cousin into joining a local gang. As an initiation, Thao is commanded to steal Walt’s prized Gran Torino. Walt catches him, and soon the kid is doing chores around Walt’s house at the behest of his old-school family. Walt, of course, warms to the kid, introduces him to the world of tools, teaches him how to be a Man.

You can feel how dusty this all is, right? And there’s even a scene where ol’ Walt ambles next door, tastes his first Hmong food, and discovers he kind of likes these people. (Prior to that, he’d been given to such charming epithets as “gook” and “zipperhead.”) Awful as Gran Torino is on paper, iffy as most of the supporting performances are (except for John Carroll Lynch), it’s a valentine to Clint fans, of whom I am one. I don’t think the man has the Midas touch — I was baffled when Million Dollar Baby got wreathed in praise and trophies. His filmography since the masterpiece Unforgiven has been erratic (I’d like to hear the Johnny-come-latelies who declare Eastwood a genius try to defend Space Cowboys). But I enjoy Eastwood’s clean directorial style and his sandpapery, disdainful screen persona, and that’s about all Gran Torino showcases.

With Eastwood in the role, what could’ve played as simple-minded ascends to mythology. (Look at any of the scenes without him in them — pure amateur hour.) You could say that about Unforgiven, too, but that had a brilliant script and Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman. Unforgiven was meant as a deconstruction of (and maybe an atonement for) the pitiless gunslingers on which Eastwood built his career. Gran Torino reads like an elegy — they don’t make men (movie stars) like Walt (Clint) any more. It’s utter sap on that level, but Eastwood plays Walt with a farewell-tour gratitude, like John Wayne in The Shootist. These meta-macho films, which appeal on about the same level as a sports legend stepping onto the field one more time before retirement, are as much about our pasts with the grizzled old stars as about the movies themselves. On that level, Gran Torino is often touching.

A late-inning shot of Walt is horrendously on-the-nose and has been laughed out of better movies than this. Not even Clint can redeem that shot; it’s special pleading, and he should’ve had the sense as director to go for something subtler (or at least less screamingly symbolic). But then nothing about Gran Torino is especially subtle. It’s the cranky old man rediscovering the warmth of family and a sense of purpose when that family is threatened.

I wish the damn thing were better, more capably acted across the board, more smartly written; I wish it earned its likely place in film history as Eastwood’s final onscreen bow, and I wish it earned the feelings that brings up in many of us.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18095&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/04/09 22:54:49
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User Comments

9/21/17 morris campbell good eastwood vehicle 4 stars
7/04/17 Lisa What a load of melodramatic crap. Overrated garbage. 1 stars
6/24/17 Danny Awful acting, and Eastwood's as usual about as subtle as a sledgehammer. 1 stars
2/28/15 stanley welles clumsy and crude, yet preposterously entertaining throughout 3 stars
6/09/14 FireWithFire Not-so-subtle message: White people need to die off. 1 stars
4/05/12 Adam Sandler Movie goers and critics don't look at movies with the same perspective. Who needs critics? 5 stars
10/14/11 Dave Agreed with Peter's review. Spot on. 2 stars
11/13/10 sam bonner people love this movie, that is all that matters 5 stars
7/03/10 puddleduck Excellent story, unfortunate some don't get what this movie is explores. 5 stars
4/18/10 MattyC. Holy cow. How did anyone like this trash? HORRIBLE acting!! Painfully pretentious. 1 stars
3/27/10 BigGuy If he was a Korean war vet, his first car would have been a 55 Chevy--get your dates right! 1 stars
1/09/10 pinter terrible cliched film 1 stars
11/28/09 Flounder Ham-fisted screenplay almost kills pic, but Clint's performance is worth price of admission 4 stars
9/27/09 The Grinch Stumbles into melodrama here and there, but heart's in the right place, 4 stars
8/31/09 MP Bartley Not exactly subtle, but Eastwood pulls you into it regardless. 4 stars
8/04/09 charley hayes Some ordinary acting but older eastwood much more enjoyable than young clint 4 stars
8/03/09 David A. An old grump tries to be a tough guy--lame, stupid, and boring! 1 stars
7/15/09 Brett P. An AWESOME movie,and the music by Clint is BRILLIANT. 5 stars
7/08/09 Benny Lava Hammy acting and 90% useless characters set in a most boring and predictable storyline. 1 stars
7/04/09 Monday Morning Pretty disappointing but better than most of the crap they're making today. 3 stars
7/01/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess A great movie. 5 stars
6/22/09 devastator very racist stupid film, bad script full of epithets 1 stars
6/20/09 L&Y We loved it....such a quiet movie left such a great impression 5 stars
6/17/09 jurisprudence terrible, terrible and terrible. Clint please retire 1 stars
6/17/09 Simon bitchslap reviewers certainly overrate subtlety. Flawed film tho, a few redeeming scenes 3 stars
6/12/09 action movie fan some scenes were good but mainly too talky and dull 2 stars
5/03/09 AllenK Sad that prior posters missed the confessional subtlety. Finely crafted; will see again 5 stars
4/21/09 malcolm grumpy old Dirty Harry 3 stars
4/06/09 Michael You're spot on. This film is so camp !! dreadful clichés.Thoroughly soporific. No subtlety. 1 stars
4/04/09 Jacqueline It was bad. It was ugly. The only good thing is that it ended. 1 stars
4/04/09 K. Sear One of the most poorly assembled films I have ever seen. 1 stars
3/01/09 Ryan Lloyd Yes the teenageractors were shocking, but the script is witty and clint eastwood is as neas 5 stars
2/28/09 R.W. Welch Clint channels Archie Bunker, with a twist. C+ 3 stars
2/01/09 matt the insults were funny 4 stars
1/31/09 Koitus Some of the story = confusing (cousin attacks own family); what were medical test results? 3 stars
1/25/09 Peta I felt like I was watching a D grade tele-movie. Truly cringe worthy! 1 stars
1/21/09 Jackie Finally someone tells it like it us. What an awful, awkward, disjointed film. Hilarious! 1 stars
1/20/09 don eremin people do change..wonderful 5 stars
1/19/09 Ginny Monroe Perfect movie, I loved it! 5 stars
1/17/09 Mike Eastwood was great. Couldn't get over the terrible cast. 2 stars
1/16/09 phyllis Hated this film. Horrible acting. NO redeeming value. Obnoxious and ignorant. 1 stars
1/16/09 matt a near masterpiece, but felt a little too long. 4 stars
1/15/09 Aesop Best Actor. Best Director. Best Picture. 4 stars
1/12/09 D from Indy Redemption, regret, we needed more Walt back story, but Loved it. 4 stars
1/10/09 George (DUKE) Eastwood perfect...stereotypes RIGHT ON THE MONEY...true...funny 4 stars
1/10/09 Luisa Terrible asian actors, but Clint was great, funny!! 4 stars
1/09/09 Jess The cast seemed amateur because they ARE amateurs! Non-actors! 5 stars
1/03/09 John Seems your cosy middle-class education precluded working-class culture and social mores. 4 stars
12/28/08 Drew It was a great movie 5 stars
12/28/08 mr.mike Unfortunately the character is more Archie Bunker than Paul Kersey. 4 stars
12/27/08 caiphn Loved it. 4 stars
12/24/08 WaltSobchak It was hilarious. The song at the end knocks a star off. Stop singing Clint. Please. 4 stars
12/21/08 Andrew Your way off Peter. Its a great movie in a time where there aren't that many. 5 stars
12/14/08 Man Out 6 Bucks Clint puts multicultural mythology on high contrast. Freeze frame from a day in south LA 5 stars
12/12/08 bc Way to start with a misplaced modifier, Brian. You're describing Eastwood, not the film. 4 stars
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  12-Dec-2008 (R)
  DVD: 09-Jun-2009


  DVD: 09-Jun-2009

Directed by
  Clint Eastwood

Written by
  Nick Schenk

  Clint Eastwood
  Cory Hardrict
  Geraldine Hughes
  Brian Haley
  Dreama Walker
  Brian Howe

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