Sunday, August 09, 2009

Gran Torino (movie)

Gran Torino (Movie : 2008; DVD : 2009)
Genre : Action
116 Minutes
MPAA Rating : "R"
My Rating : C-
. Wow, my fourth movie in 2009. I'm turning into a cinemaniac. Clint Eastwood stars in and directs this action-packed shoot-em-up. He plays Walt Kowalski, a Korean war vet, retired auto worker, Pabst Blue Ribbon drinking (yuck!) bigot who finds his Detroit neighborhood is going to the Hmongs and whose prize possession is his vintage Gran Torino. . The film opens with Walt returning home from his wife's funeral, to find his life reduced to sitting on the front porch, drinking beer, and muttering every racial epithet imaginable as various minorities pass by on his street. His next-door neighbors are Hmongs, and Walt gradually develops a relationship with them that threatens to erode his bigotry. . Alas, after 30 minutes of fascinating potential, the movie degenerates into a mindless set of stereotypes. All gangs (take your pick from Hmongs, blacks, and Mexicans) are utterly evil. All of Clint's surviving family (sons, in-laws, and grandkids) are just waiting for him to die so they can divvy up his possessions. All the Hmongs (except the gangstas) are friendly but naive. All the white folks are politically-incorrect lovable old cusses, who don't mean nothing when they toss racial slurs around. . There's plenty of bad acting. Clint half-whispers/scowls his lines; the impressionable Hmong next-door boy stumbles through his, and Christopher Carley and Clint repeatedly mis-time their dialogues. . The plot is poor and obvious. Walt is coughing up blood, which is Hollywood's way of telling you he's dying of lung cancer. Kinda lets you know he's not gonna be around for the closing credits, doesn't it? The ending is clich├ęd and unrealistic. It's implied that Walt has saved the neighborhood from gangs; but a reflection on the facts of the final showdown leads me to believe these baddies will be out in no time. . What's To Like... Clintaholics get a new trademark phrase. "Get Off My Lawn" replaces "Go Ahead, Make My Day". The Hmong grandmother is hilarious. You don't need to speak the language to know what she's saying about Walt. Ahney Her does a good job of playing the Hmong daughter. The movie was shot in actual Detroit neighborhoods. It shows, and it's kewl. . In the end Gran Torino is about three steps below the Dirty Harry movies (those at least posed some moral questions - is it okay for cops to also be vigilantes?), but one step above every DeathWish sequel. I'll give it a "C-" because it is a one-time watchable movie. Thank goodness Walt dies though, because that means there will be no Gran Torino II.

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