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Gran Torino
USA, Germany, Australia
Crime, Drama
IMDB rating:
Clint Eastwood
Christopher Carley as Father Janovich
Bee Vang as Thao Vang Lor
Ahney Her as Sue Lor
Brian Haley as Mitch Kowalski
Geraldine Hughes as Karen Kowalski
Dreama Walker as Ashley Kowalski
Brian Howe as Steve Kowalski
John Carroll Lynch as Barber Martin
William Hill as Tim Kennedy
Chee Thao as Grandma
Choua Kue as Youa
Storyline: Walt Kowalski is a widower who holds onto his prejudices despite the changes in his Michigan neighborhood and the world around him. Kowalski is a grumpy, tough-minded, unhappy old man who can't get along with either his kids or his neighbors. He is a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1972 Gran Torino he keeps in mint condition. When his neighbor Thao, a young Hmong teenager under pressure from his gang member cousin, tries to steal his Gran Torino, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth. Drawn against his will into the life of Thao's family, Kowalski is soon taking steps to protect them from the gangs that infest their neighborhood.
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moralistic suburbs melodrama
Clint Eastwood's character in Gran Torino is one of the less likable good guys recently seen on screen. Recently widowed, retired automobile worker Walt Kowalski is a lonely man, non-communicative neighbor, non-committal Catholic, badly mouthed and with a tendency of racism towards the Asian neighbors who came in numbers to settle his neighborhood. His sense of justice is initially focused towards keeping any other human beings' feet out of his lawn. This until events in the neighborhood will force him take a stand and get him to know the true human face of his neighbors.

The theme of the WASP American confronted with the newcomers in the increasingly multi-racial and multi-cultural society of today's America is the same as in the wonderful 'The Visitor' that I saw a few months ago. Yet, everything that was there subtle, unexpected, hinted, is here in 'Gran Torino' direct and trivial. Eastwood's Kowalski acts as and old incarnation of his cowboy roles three or four decades earlier. His understanding of the neighbors is never in harmony with their culture for which he keeps a permanent disdain, it is always in his own terms. The cultural integration is not perceived as a bilateral and respectful process, but as a series of lessons in 'the American way', meaning rude language and macho behavior. At least the screen story has the wisdom of showing this way as failing in real life. The final resolution of the conflict has a very moralistic tone, with a Christian symbolic nuance that may work on the screen but in real life would be less credible (there is probably more than one gang in that suburb area, right?).

Clint Eastwood is a living legend, and at his age and stature he can do whatever he wants on screen. He does it his way. To my taste, when dealing with the tough problems of inter-racial relations and social problems in the American suburbs his ways do not work too well. It's maybe because the cowboys ways do not work that well in these situations.
A banal display of gimmickery and staggeringly amateurish acting.
"Relax zipperhead, I'm not going to shoot you", grumped Harry the Ole Fart to Billy the karate Kid. "I may not be the most pleasant man that walks the Earth, you zip face, fish head, you gook...grunthhhhggghhh....."

Enough already!

Seriously, this film's so bad it's not even funny.

Here's the whole ordeal in a nutshell:

Over the top racist old war vet is grumpy. Over the top racist old war vet is slightly less grumpy. Over the top racist old war vet develops a heart. Some injustice, unfathomable plot twist. To everyone's ill concealed embarrassment, Clint barks a tune during the credits -The end-

Mix in some truly pathetic acting by a cast clearly let in on a sympathy vote, the worst clichés gathered from Alan Smithee's collective works, The Ultimate Anthology of Prosthetic Plot Points, and you get this yard sale of banality which is Gran Torino.

If you like your drama spoon fed to you with a predictability factor that would even make a soap screenwriter blush and if you can stand Eastwood doing poor grizzly imitation while impersonating a fossilized plank of pre-Cambrian wood throughout an entire film, I guess this movie is for you.

But if you're still going for something slightly original, convincing or otherwise entertaining , I can only recommend a dozen of other films that are actually worth their viewing.

Go see 'The Usual Suspects' if you never got around to see it. 'Big Fish', 'Lost in Translation', 'Funny Games', 'Ground Hog Day', 'Michael Clayton' or 'The Escapist'. And bloody shame on all those professional movie critics. I mean, surely they must have HBO so they can compare this shameful dross to for instance 'The Wire' and conclude that which was actually really made for TV, is light years ahead of this straight- to-DVD clunker.

Gran Torino, a score of 8.4 and a #85 place in the IMDb top 250 list.

What a joke!

An absolutely terrible movie ... Not up to Eastwood's (or anyone else's) standards
I have enjoyed every Clint Eastwood movie I have seen, until now.

There were numerous problems that I had with this film:

1) The plot and scenes were so predictable, it wasn't even entertaining. 2) The acting in this film was absolutely horrid - including Clint's. The lines and acting were so strained throughout the entire movie, I was never able to get into any of the characters. Not even for a second. 3) The movie's message could have been transmitted more effectively with 90% less of the non-stop racial slurs and insults that Clint made throughout the movie. He's a bigot. I got that after the first 20 seconds he looked at his neighbor's home at the beginning of the movie. I didn't need to keep hearing it rammed down my ears every other minute of the movie ... I wasn't going to forget that he's a bigot. 4) Regardless of the situations that supposedly brought Clint closer to his neighbors, it was totally laughable that anybody from the Hmong family would spend a minute with somebody who spouted such vile about them constantly in their presence. It is inconceivable to me that the daughter would bond any sort of friendship with anybody as insanely bigoted as Clint's character. Even if she was helped by Clint, that gratitude would have evaporated within minutes of hearing all the racial slurs made against her, her family, and her people. 6) Is there a dimension less than 1? If so, I would assign that dimension to the depth of every character in the movie. 7) Heck, I was insulted by Clint's character, and I'm not even Asian. After a certain point, I started fast-forwarding through the movie to get past each of his embarrassing tirades. They weren't character development, and they certainly didn't add anything to the movie after the first 10 minutes. 8) Even Clint's constant growling throughout the movie got tiresome. In his earlier films, he didn't have to sound tough all the time. You just knew he was.

If I hadn't watched this at home, I would have walked out. I did watch it to the end however, just to see how the main plot line conflict was resolved. (I won't say how it happens, in case you still want to waste your time on this film)

Even the conflict resolution was unbelievable. About 20 minutes prior to that resolution, it was mentioned exactly why that supposed resolution wouldn't have worked.

Normally, I would have given a film of this caliber about a 4, because Clint's acting would have raised the bar a little. Instead, this gets a solid '1' from me because Clint's acting actually was as bad as everybody else, and I expected better from him.

Predictable and Cliché, enjoyable only for the sheep.
If there's a handbook out there on how to make an award worthy movie, Eastwood not only has it, but lives by it. For most people Gran Torino will be on their top list of the year, but Gran Torino is chalked full of content that screams "award worthy" that it has the opposite effect. And the mistakes in this film are too obvious to ignore. At least for me they are.

Despite the praise this movie is getting, this is nowhere near the best of the year, or any best list altogether. This is a 2 hour instructional on how to make a movie with little to no budget that gets people talking about awards for it. So let me prove why that is.

Cookie cutter characters, and Grand Torino is full of them. From Walt ( Eastwood ), to Thao, Thao's sister, the entire Hmong family next door, the gangsta cousin, and the Priest. When you start with generic characters you're going to have a generic story. But wait, if it's generic ( AND IT IS ) why are people talking awards? Why was the screenplay so honored? Simple, you add in the "choker scene".

Despite being a generic story with generic characters there is one scene in the movie people will get choked up on. And I'm going to spoil that. Thao's sister gets raped. OMG HOW POWERFUL WAS THAT!! There I just listed what everyone talking about how they felt when they saw her. At this point in the movie the story already changed gears twice. Now this is the third change and its the gripper. Its the one that makes people say how powerful this movie is ( it isn't ) If anything it was a joke, when she came walking through the door I laughed cause I thought " OH here's the award moment right here." But people eat this stuff up and Eastwood knows it. Cause they did.

With the rape scene being the third story change I want to recap what happened before it. At first you see Walt hates his family, his neighborhood, the priest, and his neighbors. This goes on for a while. THEN SOMETHING HAPPENS!! Walt is liked by his neighbors, and in standard Hollywood fashion he learns more about the Hmong's which is basically a homage to any movie made where a foreigner is taught the customs and heritage of another race through an intelligent interpreter. That intelligent interpreter being Thao's sister ( SEE SO THE RAPE SCENE IS MORE POWERFUL LATER ) Add in something Walt does to SHOCK THE HMONG FAMILY, a mysterious Hmong shaman reads his fortune, Walt having a good time, and a conversation with Thao and end scene. Good to go to the next story change.

From that point on the movie is Walt warming up to Thao and the rest of the Hmongs. Now these guys are good pals. But there's a lot missing in this I feel. Thao goes from Forrest Gump quiet to "won't shut the hell up" in the course of a montage of him doing yard work in the neighborhood. I liked quiet Thao. But no-so-quiet Thao was annoying. From this point on I had a hard time figuring out what the point of this movie was.

And the lack of any really message left me thinking this movie served only one purpose. To win awards. And the screenplay did win one. And I think Clint won one as well. So as far as that end goes the movie was a success.

But for me its more than just about the awards. I've watched a lot of critically acclaimed and award winning movies over the years and for the majority of them they suck. They suck cause they all follow the same sort of pattern. They go to the play book on how to put scenes together and what to do in them that make it predictable. And your award winning moment is always something that shocks people. So Thao's sister being raped is that scene, how it played out was predictable, and what happened after it was uneventful. And in the end your left with a movie that doesn't change anything that you perceive or thought before you saw it.

There's no real emotion being had in this movie. Mostly cause the characters aren't likable. Thao's sister, annoying. Thao, interesting, then became annoying. Walt, funny, but too predictable to even care about. Walt could've have been likable but I had a problem when it was over. He liked the Hmongs who he befriended that summer more than his own family of 50 years. What a dork. I mean he couldn't even open up to them. But Thao was like the son he never had. But the catch is Thao wasn't any better a person than Walt's sons. Thao was better than his grand-kids, but the sons weren't worthy of so much hatred from the old man, at least not from what I saw.

Overall this movie is a disaster. Sure you get wisecracking Eastwood, but you also get feed a lot mixed messages and movie cliché's that make your eyes roll. And to top it off you get Eastwood singing at the end while the credits roll.
This movie sucks balls. Directing is really boring, and it shows in the actors that hurry their lines. It's like the actors ignored each other when they weren't filming, like they never discussed the script or anything. Then I guess the director didn't care, or just wanted to hurry production along. What's the deal with the priest? He's utterly useless, and the guy playing him is very monotone, doesn't deliver any lines with emotion, and his character doesn't affect Walt in the slightest. Walt gains a little respect for the priest, but that matters little, the priest is still useless.

The cinematography is nice, so I give another point. I liked the stories' direction, kind of another Karate Kid, only without the Karate. But it takes too long to get to the core action of the story. Why the f#%^ would I want to see Clint Eastwood in a bathtub for? Then there's another scene where Walt (Clint Eastwood) finally has confession with the priest. And its the most piece of s**t garbage boring a$$ scene that I have ever sat through. Then I couldn't stand it anymore, an hour and 38 minutes in, I got up to go to the bathroom. Wandered around the snack bar for a while. Came back six minutes later, hoping for a gun fight.

I wont say what happened, but it was okay. Not enough for the torture of the whole film though. Then the priest goes to get up and talk in front of everyone, and thats it I walked out. There was probably only a few minutes left, but I just couldn't stand it anymore.
Not enough Character development
Overall, This movie was bad in my opinion. I'm not sure why so many people gave it high ratings and seemingly overlooked all of its flaws. I'm assuming Clint Eastwood fans got caught up in his acting performance.

The movie begins and ends with Clint Eastwood's character while almost every other character is uni-dimensional with little or no depth at all. The kids from the local gangs might as well be witches from your typical fairytale. They are just about as mean and despicable as the storyline needs them to be with no context behind their actions. There's a random scene where (one of the key characters) a Hmong-American girl walks with her white boyfriend, and encounters a group of 3 African American kids who appear to be some sort of gang. The incredibly predictable interaction is just a bunch of awkward cliché lines thrown back and forth between the white guy and the gang. But of course, Clint Eastwood magically appears at the right time to save the girl from the evil gang. That scene came out of nowhere and completely threw me off balance. Sadly, it wasn't just a bad scene, it pretty much set the tone for the rest of the movie.

The best way to describe this film would be something stuck between a heavy drama and a feel good story. Every time the story threatens to get too dramatic, you suddenly get pulled back into the "feel good" setting and vice versa. It goes head on on heavy subjects like racism, gangs, life and death, hatred, and war, yet it doesn't fully develop on any of them. One thing that really bothered me was: Why would Thao's cousin (the main "antagonist") attempt to murder members of his own family following Clint's assault. He basically sprayed his auntie's house with bullets, and raped or ordered the rape and/or assault of Taoh's sister (his own cousin!?). and we know nothing about who he is or his true motivations.
Thats unquestionably the best word to describe Clint Eastwood. If this is indeed Clint's last hurrah, then its the way to go. Films don't often get to me like this did, but i had something in my eye at numerous points in the proceedings.

Seeing Clint taking care of business one last time was just superb and although the ending may be jarring to long time Clint fans, with a bit of thought it all makes sense.

Clint's character is an unapologetic racist and thats that, i fully understand that some people just cannot accept this, but the film doesn't apologise for it and neither should it. You either accept this aspect of the character and in doing so accept that he's not supposed to be a hero, so why is he talking like that ?

Or realise that in real life people like this exist, who can be good and bad in the same day, but are not solely defined by either behaviour.

There is plenty of warmth in this film and humour, but at its centre is an actor and director who has enjoyed critical and commercial success for nearly 40 years, has redefined genres and broken new ground and has brought me more pleasure than i could have ever thought possible.
horrible acting and awful screenplay makes worst Eastwood movie ever...
with all the positive reviews and massive gross income this movie received at the box office, i thought this movie was going to be good... i would have settled for decent. but this movie is straight-out bad. fans who responded well to this film must be major Eastwood fans because i seriously cannot believe anyone would rate this movie so high.

let me just say that this movie didn't get nominated for any academy awards for a reason. looking at its award accomplishments, this film did not garner much attention, only being nominated for small categories. the only one notable was the national board of review, and to think it honored Clint Eastwood as best actor and Nick Schenk for best screenplay is beyond my comprehension.

what truly ruined this movie was the horrible acting! i truly cannot believe that Clint as a director could allow such amateurs to star in his movie that had so much potential. i'm pretty sure if you read others' comments, you would get a feel of how bad i'm talking about. but for an Eastwood movie? WHY CLINT, WHY? i mean even Clint himself was forced and stiff, trying way too hard to be a tough and macho racist that it didn't work at times. THE worst actors to me are the two main Hmong characters, Thao and his sister. oh my goodness. what happened to them? as an Asian-American watching this movie, i was truly shocked at their utterly poor acting skills, as if Clint picked them at random off the street or as if they were part of his family or something. i know for a fact that i would have done a better job playing these characters, and i'm not joking either. in a nutshell, the acting was so unbelievable.... the way they delivered their lines and their lack of facial expression.

another horrible factor to this film is the awful screen writing. Nick Schenk tries way too hard to make this movie bad-ass that every single line from a character contains some derogatory name-calling. honestly, people don't call each other names as often as this. and to have Eastwood's character sacrifice his life at the end all because the Hmong family didn't want to tell the police that Thao's sister got raped is just plain dumb. what made it worse was that supposedly, Hmong keep things very private but yet witnesses who saw the murder blabbed to the police faster than the speed of light. and you would think those gangsters who shot him would run away or try to hide his body but instead they stay there at the scene of the crime, pretty much waiting to be arrested by the police. let's get real here people.

all in all, lack of character development from 99% of the characters and crappy screen writing made this film clearly Eastwood's worst and most forgettable movie, period.
how is this ranked so high
I had no intention of watching this, but my friend called me up and asked me if I wanted to watch it. I must say that I do not know why people love Eastwood's movies so much. I felt as if it was just not put together well. Maybe that is not the best way of putting it, but I would definitely say that he has no originality and does not bring anything new to the table as a director. To me it seems as cookie cutter as one can get with movies of this type. I felt as if the acting was terrible, but there were moments when I thought Eastwood was good, but not enough for me to think that he did a good job with the movie. I do not think that the script was all that strong to begin with and the dialog was a weak as it could get. I know the movie is about breaking views about stereo-types and prejudice and crap like that, but it did not resonate at all. I found myself laughing at a lot of racial slurs and I do not know if that was intentional, but it took away from the seriousness of the movie for me. Being a minority growing up with a lot of racists in my life might have skewed my view on this, but I do not think this was a realistic progression for any of the characters. This movie is as formulaic as it gets from the script to the music choices to the acting. Nothing unique about this movie to make me want to rate it any higher.
watch harry brown instead.
in short. woeful acting from everyone, its really, really bad, clint's never been a great actor in the true sense of the word, but he always had a huge presence which is still here somewhat but his lazy delivery is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the stilted performances here. this leads us to the next stages, script and characters, neither of which help the actors performances. the dialogue is awful, stilted and wooden and the characters are so stereotypical its unreal and make the whole thing almost laughable if it wasn't so insulting to any viewer who doesn't keep their brain in a jar. i said in short so id best just leave off with the plot, predictable, predictable and, yes, very, very predictable. clint is a screen legend but im sure if he made a documentary on paint drying itd be nominated for an Oscaror two, i genuinely wish more effort had been put in and some enjoyment could be had. watch harry brown instead.
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