Previously, I wrote a review about Gran Torino when it was in theatres. Here’s the bulk of that post since not much has changed in regards to my thoughts on the film:
There are five other key things I learned while watching this film. Let’s explore them, shall we?
1. Old people like to greet one another with racist epithets.
Throughout the film, Eastwood’s character, Walt, uses racial slurs against the minorities in his community. But he’s an equal opportunity offender as well. He also takes great pride in verbally attacking his barber, and a friend of his at a construction site. It’s actually amusing to watch Eastwood become a 2009 version of Archie Bunker from All in the Family (ask your grandparents about this show, kids).
Honestly, I’ve never witnessed this type of behavior in the real world. I wouldn’t recommend it, and it would be best to heed that advice in these overly politically correct times.
2. Stereotypes work even when not in a film like Crash.
Ah, Crash. If there was ever a movie that exploited EVERY racial stereotype in Los Angeles, Crash would be the film. And, unknown to me, stereotypes = Oscar gold!
Much like Crash, Gran Torino offers up some fine stereotypes of its own. The three black thugs that go after the innocent Asian girl. The white guy who wants to be black. The Asian gangbangers who blast Asian gangsta rap from their car speakers. You get the picture. Oh, and even white folks get their due as we see Walt’s sons are nothing more than white yuppie scum.
Remember kids: be an original and don’t propagate stereotypes in your own actions and deeds.
3. Clint Eastwood can grumble, mumble, and say one-liners at 78 and still be a bad-ass.
Clint Eastwood, in my opinion, can do whatever the hell he wants (see #4). And in this film all he needs to do is give a look and you know he means business.
A lot of what Eastwood says in the film comes across as pithy one-liners that are pretty funny. I can see someone getting the DVD just so they can design a Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino Soundboard to prank call people with (not a suggestion).
He may be 78, but he’s still got the Dirty Harry edge to him. His role as a bitter, bigoted, curmudgeon, works because of how Eastwood plays him: simple, minimalist, and empathetic.
4. Clint Eastwood: Actor, Director, Producer…Singer??
Dirty Harry, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Space Cowboys. Eastwood’s had a creative tie to them all. And as star, director, and producer of Gran Torino, you’d think that would be good enough. Not for Eastwood!
At the end of the film, I was in tears. The end is sad. Not Marley & Me sad, but sad. And then, the movies theme song begins. Whose voice is that coming through the speakers? It’s Clint Eastwood! Holy crap! I guess he figured that if Chuck Norris can sing the theme song to Walker, Texas Ranger, he sure as hell can sing a ditty at the end of his final film as an actor.
Movie Trivia: Eastwood sang a song with Ray Charles in the 70s film Any Which Way You Can. Netflix it!
5. A movie can still be good even if the first 15-20 minutes are kind of shaky.
I wasn’t sure about the film at the start. Heavy exposition. Eastwood says little to nothing. We move over to the neighbor’s home for five minutes, but keep wondering where Eastwood is. And then it picks up. Gets better. Builds momentum, and carries you to the end. If you can be patient, your patience will pay off in the end.
Now that it’s on DVD, you could make a drinking game out the film. Anytime Walt uses a racial slur, take a shot. Anytime he points his finger like a gun at someone, take a shot. Anytime “Gran Torino” is spoken, take a shot. (This game is not recommended for those under the age of 21. Please play responsibly. Do not drink and drive a Gran Torino or any other vehicle after participating in this game.)
Only two special features are included in this DVD, which makes me wonder if another edition will be coming soon. I was expecting an interview with Eastwood about how this is his final acting role and why he decided on this script to both star in and direct. Instead, we get two featurettes about cars.
Manning the Wheel
The cast and crew reflect on their favorite cars and the importance of the Gran Torino to the film.
Gran Torino: More Than A Car
A salute to men and their cars. Add in Tim Taylor from Tool Time or Jay Leno and this would be even cooler than it is.
Both of these featurettes are short, which is a shame, since they probably could have had a little more fun with the subject matter.
If you are an Eastwood fan, this is a definite must-buy. It’s his last acting role, which makes it a piece of film history in a way. For those who have heard about it and are curious, rent it first and see what you think. Either way, you can make a drinking game out of the film and enjoy yourself and the film along the way.