Gran Torino

Posted by schnolis on January 14th, 2009 filed in Reviews

GRAN_TORINOI’m almost afraid of writing a review of this film.  It’s not that I think the movie was bad, because I don’t think that.  Actually it’s a good movie.  Ask me if you should see it, and I’m very likely to say, “Yes.”  There’s probably only one person I’d advise against seeing this film, and that’s me.  

Clint Eastwood plays Walt, a crotchety man at the end of his life. His wife has just died, he’s offended by all the new things he sees around him, and the entire world has passed him by. Almost. While protecting his personal space, he helps out some troubled neighbors and sets his path to cross that of some local gang members. He ruminates over his own private nature and lack of intimacy, but generally lives a good life.

The story isn’t groundbreaking, but it works well enough. We care about our irascible and biggoted hero despite his obvious flaws. Instead of just winding up Walt and letting the story unfold, though, Clint Eastwood bludgeons us with it. Yes, he likes racial slurs and epithets. Okay, he’s set in his ways and perceives his way is the right way. Sure, he’s got a drinking problem and doesn’t love his kids. Enough!

This is always my problem with Clint Eastwood movies. Nice enough story except for the interesting but needlessly over-stereotyped characters without any real nuance or subtlety. The bad guys are really just awful bad guys. The good guy has a granite exterior but a heart of gold. Put some random people in between and let it run. Except, of course, for the hammering maul of obviousness that keeps striking your brain whenever Clint thinks you might miss his point.

Worrisome to me is the knowledge that these movies are still terrifically popular. That’s fine. So every few years when another Eastwood movie gets released, I’ll just take my thinking cap off for a couple of hours and open wide for another force-fed morality lesson. I would skip it, but I enjoy talking about movies too much, even if that ends up being criticism.

What I liked: Fun characters. Cute story about a man finding his place in life and stepping into the modern United States.

What I Disliked: The bull in the china shop. Making a movie that needs to transcend stereotypes but then relying on those stereotypes to further the silly and insulting humor instead.

Rating: 6 of 10

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