I heard a wide range of opinions about Clint Eastwood’s new movie “Gran Torino” prior to my viewing of it. Opinions ranging from “great,” to “comically awful” to “intentionally comically awful,” so I felt like I had a wide variety of options before I watched it.
I have a great deal of respect for Clint Eastwood as an actor and a director, and the good opinions for this movie greatly outweighed the bad, so I tried to block out the “comically awful” claims made by my brother and his east coast friends, hoping their claims were mere elitism.
Like my brother and his Hoi Polloi intellectual pals, I was left to wonder why this movie has garnered such praise as the awful claims were much more accurate than the claims of greatness.
Walt, a grisly, bigoted old man who has just lost his wife, is forced to face the horrors of his multi-ethnic neighborhood alone. After catching his young neighbor in an attempt to steal his prize Gran Torino, the boy’s family asks to make it up to him by letting the boy work off his crime. After already forming a relationship with the boy’s sister, Walt agrees, and when he discovers the reasoning for the attempted theft, he puts his hatred aside in an attempt to save the young man from a troubled life.
The only reason I can fathom why this movie has been hailed as a masterpiece is because it is reportedly the last time the legendary Eastwood will ever appear on-screen. It’s a shame he couldn’t have gone out in a respectable way, as this film is beneath him.
For starters, the script is awful. I really think a good movie could be made from this premise, but this isn’t it. I wasn’t bothered by all the racist dialogue, as I know people do talk like this, it’s just that most of it seems forced and unnatural. One scene in particular where Walt takes the kids to his neighborhood barber to learn how to “talk like a real man,” is just weird and doesn’t ring true at all. In fact, nothing in this movie rings true. (No one on earth wants Detroit Lions season tickets!)
I know Eastwood, as a director, is known for shooting without modifying scripts at all. That’s fine when making movies like “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby” as those are good scripts. This time around, there is a weird and unpleasant undertone to almost every scene and it gets old fast.
Despite the problems with the story, what ultimately kills this movie is some truly awful acting.
Eastwood is fine, as he could play this character in his sleep, but some of the supporting characters are so stunningly awful it’s a wonder how they were even able to land an audition, let alone key roles in the movie. The actors playing both the young boy and his sister have never professionally acted before, but judging by the way they deliver their lines I’m not convinced they’ve ever even watched a movie. I don’t know if it’s inexperience, or perhaps the Hmong actors struggling to grasp conversational English, but whatever the problem, both performances are distractingly awful.
I will give Eastwood credit as he is a good enough director to at least keep you interested to see how the movie ends, but even he has some bad misfires here. Was the playing of cavalry music when he pulls out his shotgun supposed to be threatening? Also, who decided it would be a good idea to have him singing over the end credits. I feel bad making fun of someone I genuinely admire, but try as I might, I could not help but laugh when I heard his scruffy voice singing the film to a close.
In terms of extra content, there were documentaries about both the movie and Gran Torino’s. The movie sucked and I don’t give a shit about cars so there was nothing for me here.
I have heard some critics refer to this movie as “Dirty Harry in retirement.” It’s also rumored to be the last time Eastwood will ever appear on camera again, so maybe he felt obliged to bring his legendary trademark tough guy facade on display one more time, which is too bad. Especially since it’s not as if a good movie couldn’t have been made from this material, but not with a poorly written script and with some of the worst child actors to ever appear on film. The fact that Eastwood, an iconic actor and good, sometimes even great, filmmaker thought this was the way to make this movie is inexplicable.
Even more inexplicable, this movie has a rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. 80% of critics, many of which get paid to review movies, said this was worth seeing. So I guess that puts me in a minority that the real-life Eastwood may hate with the vigor he hated the ethnic minorities with in this movie. Sorry Clint. With all due respect, your movie sucks.
- I at least wanted to see how it ended
- Eastwood does have a few funny lines
- Bad script
- Horrible, horrible acting by supporting cast
- “Edgy” material seems forced
- Just flat out bad
Final Score: 4.0/10
Eastwood Acting: 7.0/10
Rest of the cast: 1.0/10 (Seriously, as bad as bad gets)