While it wasn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, Gran Torino still manages to deliver on a strong emotional level. Yes, the acting from everyone but Clint Eastwood is not that great. And, yes, at times you may feel like you’re watching an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger sans Chuck Norris. These things may be true, but 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 racial 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, etc,etc,etc,etc. 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 (see below), 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 80s film Any Which Way You Can. Netflix it!
Intro to Walker, Texas Ranger as sung by Mr. Chuck Norris!
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.
I still don’t get why other critics are praising this as a Top Ten film, or why it’s being nominated for awards. Eastwood deserves a nomination as an actor. But for Best Picture? Save that for something that deserves the Oscar nod: Paul Blart – Mall Cop (just kidding).
Gran Torino earns an A. It’s Eastwood’s last acting role, so this grade’s for him! Now…get off my lawn!!