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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Gran Torino (2008)


Wish I knew old men like Clint Eastwood.

Curmudgeonly Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood, who also directs) must confront his Hmong immigrant neighbors — and his own long-held prejudices — when the family’s teenage son, Thao (Bee Vang), tries to steal Walt’s beloved 1972 Gran Torino. Walt soon assumes the unlikely role of guardian angel to young Thao and his sister Sue (Ahney Her), both of whom are vulnerable to local gang influences.

I have seen this movie so, so many times before, that literally I can say ever single line in this film. But it’s not a bad thing, cause I have always enjoyed this film.

Clint Eastwood as a director, is kind of iffy for me. Sometimes he is truly amazing as a director, and other times he just seems sluggish, and uninspired. This film is in between. Here it all starts off very slow, with little nice spots here and there, but it never fully gets off the ground, and you start to wonder what the hell Eastwood is trying to do here. Then the second half comes in, and that really does kick in.

The screenplay is good here, with a lot of humor, in a type of Archie Bunker way, but it still works cause everyone’s got a little bit of racism within them, and who doesn’t like a good Gook joke here and there? The direction and screenplay mesh well together, and although it isn’t the greatest combination since Peanut Butter & Jelly, they still do jell (pun intended) together well.

But the main reason this film is good, is mainly because of the freakin’ man, Clint Eastwood. This mofo is about 78, but he shows here that age doesn’t matter, cause he could still kick your ass. Almost every scene he is in, is just pure hilarity, or perfection for that matter. He’s an old, cranky, son of a bitch, that doesn’t give a shit what anyone else thinks about him, and won’t back down from telling you that he doesn’t like you, and the reasons why.

The problem with this film is that Clint is probably the only good thing that this film has going for it when it comes to acting. All of the unknown Hmong actors, are all untrained, which shows sadly, and almost every scene they have is just terribly acted, and sometimes unintentionally funny. I guess Clint was trying to go for the realistic feeling and showing real people acting, but sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. This was the one time it didn’t work, and terribly I might add. Also, what about those freakin’ gang members? They were such a bunch of little girls! In all honesty I could have kicked their asses!

Consensus: This may not be his best work, but Clint Eastwood does a great job on screen, with perfect presence, and a screenplay that shows humor, but also enough heart.

8/10=Matinee!!!

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23 responses to “Gran Torino (2008)

  1. Andrew Robinson January 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    agree agree agree…

    I actually haven’t revisited this one since I saw it in 08, but I loved it then. There are points which seem cheesy but just work because Eastwood is so great. And even though the film touches on stereotypes and racism it never feels completely wrong since it’s slightly contextualized. And it does come from an 80 yr old man who you see all the while just crusty and such.

    Love the movie.

  2. jpothen January 26, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks for commenting on my blog, since you were so nice to do so I’ll return the favor.

    I can see you have a strong amount of enthusiasm for film, which is important and hard to maintain. Good job.

    But if you want to be taken seriously, you need to make a few improvements:

    -Edit your reviews by putting the first draft away for several days and then coming back to it.

    -Use a formal voice. Lose the puns, vulgar language, etc. I don’t see Roger Ebert on your list of movie reviews, so I suggest you learn more about him. He is a respected and well-known movie critic whose reviews are themselves examples of excellent prose.

    -Don’t reveal major plot points. But if you must, warn the reader ahead of time.

    I think you’ve got a good start here. I hope you continue to grow as a writer and a film-lover.

  3. Nostra January 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Really enjoyed the movie and Clint Eastwood was really cool in it. If you like this you should also watch Harry Brown, which is similair and stars Michael Caine.

  4. eceldridge January 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I agreed with most of your review, although for me Gran Torino was more than “matinée” because Clint Eastwood character reminds me of someone I know.

  5. marcys January 27, 2011 at 4:55 am

    Who doesn’t “enjoy a good Gook joke?” A person of Asian descent, that’s who. Sorry but I just had to say that.

  6. Rodney January 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Dan, you got this film so very right. Personally, I think it’s Clint’s best work in ages, as an actor. He plays this kind of role so well it’s almost effortless. great review, and I’ll try getting a link to this one from my own review soon! great job!

  7. Dan January 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I loved this one. Clint is great in the role and, like Rodney, I think it’s one of his best films as a director. The film has one of the best endings I’ve ever seen. I just sat mesmerised as the credits rolled thinking about what just happened.

  8. Helen January 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    You’re definitely more of a fan of this movie than I am; while I enjoyed it, I haven’t sought out a second viewing. However, one aspect of the film that I think more highly of than you do is the performances by the non-professional actors, especially the young man playing Thao. The artlessness of the performance strikes the perfect note for his coming-of-age/ lost in America character arc.

  9. asaur January 30, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and getting me over here to read your review of this film. I agree that the only really strong point to this film is Clint Eastwood. Outside of him (and perhaps his children in the movie), the acting is sub-par (and that is putting it nicely). Still, there is a story here and one of Mr. Eastwood’s best in the last few years. I think The Changeling may be a better recent film, but Gran Torino received far more attention. I’d recommend checking out the former if you haven’t as of yet.

    On another note, you’re cranking out the reviews. Good for you. Keep writing.

  10. Eric February 1, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I may have to give this movie another shot. I saw it when it came out, but the story came across as cliched and the Hmong actors were terrible. Clint was good, but everything else just disappointed me. Looks like lots of love from you and the comments though.

  11. orangelegfilms February 7, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    i loved this movie – thought it was better than Million Dollar Baby, which I was underwhelmed by. Nice reviewing mate, although I enjoyed the performance of the girl Hmong, she was really real.

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