more by MaryAnn

hail HYDRA | by maryann johanson

Gran Torino (review)

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 StumbleUpon 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×

Hey You Kids Get Off My Lawn

Oh my god, it’s finally happened: Someone made Hey You Kids Get Off My Lawn: The Motion Picture. It’s a Moving(TM) and Poignant(TM) tale of a crotchety old man who learns the true meaning of something or other. Could be neighborliness. Could be tolerance. Could be surviving in a world in which crotchety-old-man-itude has become a cinematic cliché. It doesn’t matter. The shell of the crotchety old man — who is, underneath, of course, a warm and genuine fella — has been broken. Hoorah!
Someday, we will see the crotchety-old-man movie in which someone finally cracks after days and weeks and months of trying to get through to the alleged creamy chocolately center of a crotchety old man — and failing — and says, “Hey, dude, there’s a reason why you’re a miserable lonely old bastard, and it’s because you’re really not a very nice person at all. Maybe try stopping being such a bigoted close-minded old fart, and you might have an actual friend or two, or at least someone who can tolerate pretending to like you for an hour or two.”

This is not that movie.

This is a disposable made-for-the-Hallmark-Channel melodrama, and it would be dismissed as such if it starred Wilford Brimley as Wilford Brimley, instead of starring Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Space Cowboys) as Wilford Brimley. Eastwood’s Walt Kowalkski is, at least, apparently perfect happy to be left alone in the miserable-old-bastard room of his own — as long as the damn kids stay off his lawn, of course. But the rest of the movie refuses to let him stay there, and intends to drag him, via the cheapest, most obvious methods possible, into the sunshine of friendship and love and puppies and ice cream. I’d like to think that the real Clint would have kicked the ass of any movie that tried that on him. Maybe he really is getting old. But Eastwood directed this himself, so you have to assume that things are the way he wants them to be.

But honestly, the minute Gran Torino forces Walt, a former Detroit auto assembly-line worker and Korean War vet, to say things like “Would it kill you to buy American?” — or to actually yell at other characters to get off his lawn — all pretense to integrity and authenticity goes out the window. Did screenwriters Dave Johannson and Nick Schenk mean to be funny, putting such words into the mouth of Clint Eastwood? Is it meant to be some sort of cliché buster to have Dirty Harry himself yell at people about his lawn, like we might actually consider him likely to blow away the neighborhood kids who transgress?

Walt’s neighbors don’t seem to take him seriously, though, so why should we? In fact, teenage Sue (Ahney Her) is right in his face, inviting him to barbecues at her house next door and everything. This totally rattles Walt, because, you know, they’re Asian — Hmong refugees — and don’t they know Walt shot gooks like them during the war?

Now, there’s a certain value in portraying racists as clueless dolts and just laughing at their idiocy, but there’s something about how Walt’s racism is played for laughs here that’s disturbing. It’s meant to be charming: Oh, there goes Grandpa again, ranting against the blacks and the queers and the immigrants — ain’t he adorable? He isn’t: he’s embarrassing.

But Gran Torino is not embarrassed for Walt — he’s the hero here. Not only does it seem extremely unlikely that an 80-year-old man is suddenly going to change his attitudes about, you know, everything because his immigrant Asian neighbors are suddenly nice to him, but it also seems extremely convenient that events in Walt’s neighborhood should transpire to compell him to demonstrate how dramatically his ideas about everything have changed. His beloved titular car is threatened, Walt reacts to that in a way that seems wildly out of character based upon what we know of him to that point… and wal-lah! The crotchety old man starts learning the real meaning of stuff.

I suppose I sound ungenerous: of course people deserve to treated well even if they’re miserable old bastards, and of course it’s never too late to change one’s ways. But I’m talking about life as Hollywood filters it, and the filters here are preposterous. Of course, the reality that there really is no helping some people, no matter how generous one is with them, is too frustrating for The Movies to acknowledge, because it does not make for happy endings. And the lack of a happy ending is somethat that, alas, a movie like Gran Torino cannot countenance.


Watch Gran Torino online using LOVEFiLM’s streaming service.

MPAA: rated R for language throughout, and some violence

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • rich b

    you’ve got some serious man hating anger issues, woman.

    go get laid.

  • rich b

    one more thing – get yourself a proofreader.

    amateur hour.

    thanks for wasting 3 minutes of my precious life.

  • allan

    Some interesting comments about Gran Torino. Too bad you didn’t enjoy the film as much as most viewers (and critics) have. Ah well, as Dirty Harry once said, “Opinions are for a–holes; everybody’s got one.”

  • danny

    Haha
    im with the first guy!

  • JoshB

    you’ve got some serious man hating anger issues, woman…go get laid.

    Thou shalt not feed the trolls.

    Someday, we will see the crotchety-old-man movie in which someone finally cracks after days and weeks and months of trying to get through to the alleged creamy chocolately center of a crotchety old man — and failing — and says, “Hey, dude, there’s a reason why you’re a miserable lonely old bastard, and it’s because you’re really not a very nice person at all.

    Go watch any random episode of House. This will be said almost verbatim at least 27 times! And it never works! House is my hero.

  • S.K. Cooper

    rich b is a butthead. On the other hand, nothing turns me into a crotchety old man faster than someone misspelling “voilà” as “wal-lah!”

  • drew ryce

    MaryAnn, isn’t this movie just a race swap re-make of The Karate Kid?

    Think about it. Older, decorated, war veteran (living alone but owns a great car) rescues a fatherless child from a neighborhood gang and teaches him to stand up for himself by making him do a bunch of household chores that are actually teaching him the secrets of self-respect. Later, the old guy will give daid great car to the newly manly Kid so he can hit on the hot girl next door cheerleader type with style. Come to think of it, the bad guys in the Karate Kid were racist anti-Asians.

  • Jason

    I’ll still watch it when it is viewable at home. I like Clint and I hate kids on my lawn. Once you are paying a mortgage on your own property, your willingness to put up with crap drops dramatically.

  • drew ryce

    MaryAnn’s spelling of ‘wal·lah’ actually works well in describing Eastwoods character if we use the original Hindi & Urdu meaning i.e. “one in charge, from Sanskrit pāla protector, from pālayati, pārayati he guards; akin to Sanskrit piparti he saves..”

  • Hdj

    lol Wilford Brimley, I just call that guy the oat meal man, the oatmeal man fighting off gangs, that would be hallmark channel movie of the year.
    I bet my dad would love this movie he’s a NAM vet, and he watches the cowboy channel 24/7 and always get “they play the same damn movie everynight” , all I can do is sigh and die a little bit inside.

  • twinsrule

    Moron

  • Hdj

    most be a fan of oatmeal

  • Chuck

    I have to agree with the reviewer. This movie really stunk. The acting was horrible, especially the asian actors, and Clint Eastwood was like wood. I didn’t believe any part of this story. At times it seemed that it was just clipped together any old way without regard to continuity and consistency. Example: The asian kid next door tries to steal the old man’s prized car out of the garage and the few scenes later the car is shown parked outside on the driveway in the front of the house? Who would do that? Another Example(possible spoiler?): The old man beats up a gang member and a few scenes later the gang shoots up the neighbors house? What? Come on. Please dont insult your intelligence by going to see this.

  • Bruce

    Hrmm I personally was pleased with this movie. I’ve read a few reviews on it and in my opinion none of them has hit the mark. I think everyone has their own piece of mind and mines is they depict the situations as it is. There are more minorities then just Latino and Blacks that get affected by society. There are Asians and more then one sub group of Asians. We all have our own traditions and culture of life to live by. The only people who wouldn’t be able to appreciate this movie is those who have never gone outside of their house and into a neighborhood where there is actual diversity. The acting for me was not a problem, it was not expected that they would be wonderful in your acting, the movie isn’t a super budget that had the most famous of actors in it. Despite the acting i was more amazed by the plot. It was not as predictable as some people say. How can you predict self sacrifice from a grumpy old man who do not think of anyone other then himself because he literally disliked the world.

  • MaryAnn

    nothing turns me into a crotchety old man faster than someone misspelling “voilà” as “wal-lah!”

    It’s not a misspelling of “voilà.” It’s the proper spelling of the word people use when they mispronounce “voilà.”

    It’s kind of an analogy, see: the people who use foreign words incorrectly are sort of an equivalent to the people who make “crotchety old man learns the true meaning of stuff” movies.

  • S.K. Cooper

    That explains the line in your bio about being born in Voilà Voilà, Washington.

  • Robert

    Fantastic review, as usual, MaryAnn. I laughed out loud a few times, and then read it out loud to my boyfriend.

  • Chris

    You so fucking missed every aspect of this movie. They set the fucking tone in the first 10 minutes with the way he views his own grand children. This movie is very much about the changing culture in America, how children dont appreaciate what is handed to them, how none of them want to earn rewards. The second aspect is that of Walt discovering that the same ideals he does hold true are still present in others, he just never realized it before because of the hate installed years ago. But what does he do, he learns more about them, and he learns from them. He also sees that they are facing much bigger problems than his own people and that if he doesnt do something, the ideals they have done so much to protect could be lost just as easily as his own families’ ideals were.

    The third great part of this movie was brining back of language. The fact that no one should get to upset when friends make blantant jokes about your age, weight, hair situation, race, gender or sexual orientation. That maybe this tolerence stuff should be true in the work place, but that doesnt mean it cant be said between people who you would do anything to help when the time comes.

    I thought this movie had a very happy ending with his bitchy grand kid getting what she deserved

  • JoshB

    You so fucking missed every aspect of this movie. They set the fucking tone in the first 10 minutes

    I don’t think she fucking missed the fucking point. The review makes it clear that she understood the fucking tone, which was fucking trite and fucking obvious. Fuckity fuck.

  • Robert

    Just saw the movie. Wow. It is amazing. Not usually a fan of Eastwood movies but this won me over. Do yourself a favor and ignore this review. It is replete with errors.

    For example, Walt learns that the Hmong fought along side Americans against the VietCong – that’s why he warms up to them.

    There are more errors but I don’t have the time to point out each one. It would also ruin the movie for those who haven’t watched yet.

    :-)

  • Erga

    You obviously didn’t pay attention to the movie MarryAnn. You just collected the elements of his character from the beginning and constructed some anti-conformist(“non-cliche”) way of explaining the the results of the story. Instead you created a very cliche, anti-conformist rant trashing the movie. There a number of things that were not taken into consideration in your review of the movie, one being the circumstances and situations the crochety old man went through to develop such a character. The point of the movie is not to promote bigotry, its intentions are obviously the opposite: to help show exactly why such bigotry exists and why it is committ the fundamental attribution error (if you don’t know what it is look it up- learning= good). Instead, you yourself, MaryAnn commit such an error. No one has told you how to think that themain character is warm and fuzzy on the inside, because that itself is debatable. It is for you to decide whether Walt is truly “at peace” by the end of the movie, and whether or not justice is served. But then again you are also free to your own opinion, happy blogging MaryAnn.

  • Erga

    Please excuse my errors, hopefully, readers understand my comments.

  • Mel

    The fact that no one should get to upset when friends make blantant jokes about your age, weight, hair situation, race, gender or sexual orientation. That maybe this tolerence stuff should be true in the work place, but that doesnt mean it cant be said between people who you would do anything to help when the time comes.

    Hahahaha, yes, what I really need is friends who insult me all the time! I’ll make a note to fire the friends I already have who manage to be supportive AND pleasant to be around.

  • Haddi Nuff

    You’re probably asking yourself . . . did he star in five movies or six? And you know, in all the ennnui of this recent cliche I completely lost track . . .

    But you gotta ask yourself, “Do I feel gullible?”

    Well . . . do ya, punk?

  • Tim

    “This totally rattle Walt, because, you know, they’re Asian — Hmong refugees — and don’t they know Walt shot gooks like them during the war?”

    Not only is this sentence grammatically incorrect, it is also completely ignorant, even though you tried to write it in a satirically ignorant manner. Nice try, but you’re not educated enough. Hmong are not “gooks.” They are an ethnic minority predominantly from China/Vietnam/Laos.

  • MaryAnn

    Yes, Tim, *I* know that. Walt does not.

    Sheesh. People really do need their hands held through anything above a fifth-grade reading level, don’t they?

    You’re correct about the rattle/rattles typo, though, Tim. Thanks for pointing it out. (If that was the grammatical error you were referring to.)

  • drew ryce

    Tim, be careful about playing the ‘lack of education’ card. Both Eastwood and MaryAnn used the “gook” term correctly to include the Hmong among it’s ugly and racist numbers:

    [deleted what appeared to be an entire encyclopedia entry. folks: link, don't steal--maj]

  • drew ryce

    [deleted what appeared to be an entire encyclopedia entry. folks: link, don't steal--maj]

    Sorry, here is the post complete with link (for any that care) to a scholarly discussion demonstrating the use of ‘the term’:

    Tim, be careful about playing the ‘lack of education’ card. Both Eastwood and MaryAnn used the “gook” term correctly to include the Hmong among it’s ugly and racist numbers:

    http://kpearson.faculty.tcnj.edu/Dictionary/gook.htm

  • T-Man

    If you would actually review the movie instead of attempting (note the attempting part) to come across as witty this review may not of been a waste of my life. Next time why don’t you actually talk about the movie instead of taking one scene and attempting (theres that word again!) to be funny by pointing out the “cliches”

    Basically you’ve come across as an pathetically typical overly sensitive and whiny anti-establishment blogger who cringes at every non-PC comment they encounter. It’s so ironic how you mock a “cliche movie” in an such a cliche manner. If you would dig a little deeper you may realize Eastwood wasn’t being vulgar for the sake of vulgarity.

    Oh wait, nevermind. Then you couldn’t use your old fart joke! There goes the review!

  • JG

    I wanted to like this flick going in, but the script kept beating us over the head with the “redemption” theme (culminating in the ridiculous crucification symbolism at the end) that it left me feeling annoyed, which in turn kept me from feeling any sympathy for any of the characters. I thought “About Schmidt” was a much more believable “Crotchety Old Man Learns The True Meaning Of Stuff” movie.

  • MaryAnn

    you’ve come across as an pathetically typical overly sensitive and whiny anti-establishment blogger who cringes at every non-PC comment they encounter.

    I find it astonishing that any complaint about a movie that’s not “PC” — damn, I hate that term — is automatically construed as a complaint about the non-PC-ness itself…

  • matt

    I’m with the first guy.
    Go get laid, in your quest of trying to be unique you are embarrassing yourself.

    It is OK to admit a movie is GOOD, even if they majority of the people like it.

  • Mark

    It is OK to admit a movie is GOOD, even if [sic]they majority of [sic]the people like it.

    If you think that MaryAnn gives bad reviews to movies that are popular, how do you explain the literally hundreds of very positive reviews she’s written about movies that were also both commercially successful and well-regarded by other critics?

  • Chris

    I will say that with the exception being comedy, Mary Ann usually falls in with the majority of critics on major motion pictures. She loved Dark Knight and Iron Man and based Speed Racer and The Spirit.

    Where Mary Ann goes a-wall in my opinion are the indie films. She will way overvalue some movies (The Fall was a decent visual but terribly acted movie, Synedoche, NY isnt even in the top tier of Kauffman) and not give any appreciation or very little appreciation to some movies that have great acting all around ( This movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Doubt, and Appaloosa are good examples).

    And then there are real big mysteries to me. Lakeview Terrance, Nim’s Island, Hancock The X-Files: I Want to Believe and Stop-Loss are ranked as must see while Quantum of Solace,Hellboy II, 21, and Horton Hears a Who are left to die.

  • drew ryce

    Anybody attempting to characterise MaryAnn as an elitist hater of popular movies needs to take a look at her posted list of Top 100 Movies http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2006/01/top_100.html

    Her list is a virtual who’s who of recent popular film.

  • JoshB

    Where Mary Ann goes a-wall

    It’s AWOL, an acronym for absent without leave, which doesn’t make sense the way you used it.

    The troll is feasting on the seriousness of your posts.

  • Chris

    Josh,

    Thanks, I was in a rush and didnt even think to check that lol.

    She is all over the map on indie flicks, she hates the popular comedies, but adores British comedy, she likes what most critics like when it comes to big budget film, and she loves scifi movies more than most and it shows as she hardly critizes any film of genre. Understand what I’m saying now?

  • Anne-Kari

    Chris – I think I understand. You’re saying she has particular tastes and strong personal opinions about certain genres and their merits.

    That’s a movie reviewer for you. They all have their own take on things. That’s what they do.

    I’ve hated some flicks MAJ loved, and loved some she hated. And I’ve noticed that she doesn’t let her personal like/dislike of certain genres color her take on the actual individual movie. More than once she’s given a terrible review to a scifi flick (“Matrix Revolutions”, “Pitch Black”, etc). She’s not a big fan of Romance films, which are so often cliched and not terribly romantic, but she loved “Definitely, Maybe” – because it wasn’t a cliched mess and had genuine emotion.

    I don’t mean to take on the role of Flickfilosopher apologist (I mean ‘apologist’ in the ancient Greek sense), but really. She’s a reviewer. She writes about her reaction to what she sees.

  • Mark

    she loves scifi movies more than most and it shows as she hardly critizes any film of genre.

    As evidenced by her glowing reviews of (for example) The Spirit, The Happening, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Babylon A.D., Beowulf, Daredevil, Evolution, and especially Tomb Raider. Oh, wait — MaryAnn actually panned all of them comprehensively, because she thought they were bad movies. You could easily find another hundred negative reviews of “genre” movies in her archives if you looked.

    Understand what I’m saying now?

    That MaryAnn has actual separate opinions about each and every film she sees, based on the film itself and not its prominence or genre, and that he has personal tastes and preferences that influence her opinions?

    (and, for newcomers to the site who enjoy the FlickFilosopher reviewing style, do yourselves a favor and read the Tomb Raider review.)

  • Anne-Kari

    Mark – you are now an honorary Flickfilosopher apologist. I share my mantle with you gladly.

    And oh my god YES – her “Tomb Raider” review is pretty much my all-time favorite.

  • stellersjay

    A number of people have criticized the actors portraying the Hmong neighbour kids, but I wonder if they didn’t give the director exactly what he wanted.

    Sue is vocal and assertive, and refuses to kowtow to the neighbourhood thugs. She’s eventually punished severely for it, but only after needing to be rescued from her presumption by Walt. Thao is meek and Walt scorns his enjoyment of “women’s work” like gardening. Making Thao “man up” seems to mean getting him to understand that females (like his mother or sister) should never be giving orders, and men bond by trading casual insults and trash-talking the wife.

    When Walt realized that he had more in common with his Hmong neighbours than his own kids, I sat up. Watching from Canada, where immigration patterns have shifted dramatically in the past 30 years, it drew attention to a paradox. In the past, most immigrants were from Europe, and most voted Liberal, which is considered left of the Democrats. In recent years, though, the bulk of immigrants have come from Asia, and it’s had implications for voting patterns.

    The traditional values of Asian immigrants are more in line with those of conservatives, who hold the strongest anti-immigrant views, than with those of the liberals who typically defend immigrants. I mention it because Walt’s new respect for his neighbours appears to me to be a function of their shared conservatism.

    It’s easy to dislike the kids who have no use for Dad, but Walt admits that it’s his own fault. I feel for him, or would if it weren’t only what Walt missed by his lack of involvement in his kids’ lives that Eastwood seems to find tragic.

    The more I go over it in my mind, the more Gran Torino strikes me as paean to conservatism, and an assertion that “real” US values are conservative.

  • Chris

    Mark,

    You listed two scifi movies in there, one that was a remake. The Spirit and Daredevil are comic book movies, The Happening, while it has scifi parts is a thriller, Beowulf is an ancient story based in fantasy and Tomb Raider is a video game adaptation that is at heart a adventure type movie such as National Treasure. So wow she hated two of the worst scifi movies made this year and a comedy with scifi elements from the early part of this decade. I never said she never critizes the genre, I said she hardly critizes it. She bashes a lot more dramas and especially comedies. She still loved X-Files, Wall-E, Cloverfield, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Jumper and that’s just this year alone. Some of those are good movies, some um well they are not.

    Also, BS on the seperate opinions for each film line. She has an apparent hate for Seth Rogen that runs deep and was only put aside once because he happened to be in a Kevin Smith film.

  • MaryAnn

    So wow she hated two of the worst scifi movies made this year

    See, it’s not that I’m opinionated, it’s that I’m not always opinionated in the same way that Chris is! It’s not at all weird or odd that I hate movies that Chris deems are bad, it’s just weird and odd when I hate movies that Chris knows are good!

    Chris: The job of a critic is not to validate your opinion, or to invalidate it. There’s no need to get so upset just because we don’t agree on every movie.

  • Chris

    Mary Ann,

    I asure you I am not upset, I was just simply pointing out what I have noticed, primarly on your taste and reviews. I like to question anyone who has a different point of view than my own and find it so much more interesting than constantly agreeing with each other. Hopefully I can find a flaw to your argument and it exploit it lol. In the end Mary Ann, just as your reviews reveal your opinions, my comments simply imply my views.

  • MaryAnn

    Well, as had been pointed out, I *do* have my own taste and opinions. What would be the point of a critic who didn’t?

  • JasonJ

    crotchety old man gave you the right to sit there, drink your French wine and write your pointless biased so-called review. Go watch “Milk” again.

    Nothing more imtolerant than a young arrogant elitist liberal woman.

    I somehow doubt MaryAnn is deliberately impuning the sacrifice us veterans have given for our country in this review. It is a review of a movie, not a review of military veterans and our service to our country.

    [I deleted the comment JasonJ is quoting for being trollish--maj]

  • kit

    I have to agree with this review. I have always been and remain a big Eastwood fan but I hate to think that this is going to be his final effort, sour note that it is. A film should engage an audience and provoke a mental effort on their part, not spoon-feed in the most heavy handed way possible.

  • Paul

    It is curious about the relationship between white liberals and ethnic minorities. I heard that a lot of the work in California for gay rights was undone when blacks turned out in droves for Obama, and in the same election gay marriage was overturned. I realize that is argument by implication, but given African-American religious conservativism it is not surprising.

    And conservatives try to justify keeping immigrants out by saying they are a threat to American values, only to stumble trying to explain what is wrong with hard work and strong family bonds. In Iowa the Feds cracked down in illegal immigrant labor in a small town, sending hundreds of families back to Mexico. The laborers were replaced by drifters and the crime rate sky rocketed.

    As to the Hmong, as our allies in Vietnam, they were in real danger when we pulled out. When they tried to immigrate, only a few states were gracious enough to welcome them.

  • dgrhm

    It’s kind of an analogy, see: the people who use foreign words incorrectly are sort of an equivalent to the people who make “crotchety old man learns the true meaning of stuff” movies.

    Brilliant. Perfectly said.

  • TJ

    For anyone with first hand war experience, or relatives carrying around the memories, the sub plots in this movie were incredibly accurate. The depth of taking a war survivor suffering from survivor guilt and bringing him to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice is an amazing story. The plots and sub plots provided great depth to the story and the rants of the characters provided great humor. The actors also accurately portrayed the traditions on the Hmong people and the youth blending those traditions with american life. One of the best movies I have seen in years! Go see it, but take the time to let the sub plots sink in and reflect on them. Its a must see !!!!

  • Interesting

    Yeah, hi, I’d just like to point out to the authors of some of these comments that ad hominem attacks preeetty much destroy your credibility.

    Anyway, I felt that the film was misinterpreted by the original reviewer here. This movie isn’t all about the evolution of a man at all. You seem to mistake necessary character development for contrived character twists. Walt’s character becomes three dimensional by the end of the film, and he is established as a man of principle. What he does not do, is undergo a 180, loving all minorities and repenting for his bigotry. This is best evidenced by his confession to “padre” towards the end of the film. He does not apologize for judging “spooks” or “gooks” or other minorities prematurely, but for not getting to know his sons well enough. And yes, he is the hero. You want to know why? He risked his life in the Korean war for the benefit of his country, which left him with a great deal of prejudice. Ultimately though, by the end of the movie, he demonstrated unapologetically, mind you, that prejudice, while certainly present within his persona, always takes a back seat to social justice.

    Honestly, it seems as if you’re focusing too much on the political correctness of this film, and not enough on its content. You are taking scenes out of context, and using them to represent theories which, within the context of Walt’s character and circumstance would be 100% precluded.

    Ah, well. To each his (or her) own.

  • MaryAnn

    The depth of taking a war survivor suffering from survivor guilt and bringing him to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice is an amazing story.

    Sounds like it would be an amazing story. But that’s not what we see here. One scene of Eastwood’s character mentioning in passing his guilt does not a story make. That experience would have to be dramatized — which it is not — for that to be, you know, *the story.* It’s not the story. It’s an aside. It’s color. That’s not unimportant to telling a rich story, but it’s not the story itself.

  • http://lannaleemaheux.com/ Lanna Lee Maheux-Quinn

    I loved this movie, but I think that your assessment about it being the “Hey You Damn Kids Get Off My Lawn” movie was pretty apt.

    It felt like a kind of updated, and less violent Death Wish. Except without a chance for a sequel. Which might be a good thing.

  • John

    Check said:

    “The asian kid next door tries to steal the old man’s prized car out of the garage and the few scenes later the car is shown parked outside on the driveway in the front of the house? Who would do that?”

    A bad ass old man who is using the car as bait and showing us he isn’t intimidated, that’s who. My wife and I saw this movie today and absolutely loved it. Eastwood is classic Eastwood. That is to say he is tough, mean and likable all at the same time.

    Independent film critics who spend hours waxing poetic about movies that depict humans ruining the environment, baby seals etc. (politically correct tree huggers)will probably not enjoy the movie. Red blooded Americans who enjoy seeing the cowboy riding up on his white horse (or in this case maybe a gray horse) to save the day will love it.

  • Chris

    Interesting,

    I think you nailed the point of the movie and it’s tone. I love the part when the Priest looks at him and says “That’s it?” Walt doesnt care that he makes fun of people of differnt cultures just as he doesnt care that his barber makes fun of him for being an old crusty polish man. In the end though Walt does care about protecting good from evil and realizes that he has nothing holding him back from making the greatest sacrifice. His wife is gone, he is dying of cancer, the street he use to know is gone and he has no connection to his sons or their children. All he has is a neighbor that holds the same values that he holds and the belief that they should have a fair shot at life just as he and his family had. The other thing is that Walt never fires a weapon in this movie on purpose. He has seen war, he has done things he isnt proud of and he has learned that it isnt worth taking a life but that maybe it is worth trying to save another.

  • Sia Thao

    It’s a great movie, I loved how it can almost accurately describe the woes of the Hmong communities and it’s gang issue. I feel like this movie open up a picture to other people other than Hmong, that they do not know. The writer did some very good research. Even though many people dismiss the movie plots as being fake, I offer a second opinion. I personally experience this whole ordeal growing up in a neighbor very similar to the one staged. I find that to fully appreciated the movie, you have to understand the Hmong culture and it’s language. Lots of subtitles were left untranslated, and boy you missed out. I feel “Sue” translation did not do enough justice. This is a MUST SEE movie.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    spoilers below for those who haven’t seen the film:

    Hmm… I just watched this last night, and while I don’t agree with your assessment, MaryAnn, I do find it remarkable that (from what I can see) most of the people disagreeing with you in the comments don’t appear to have seen the movie yet.

    Though why it’s remarkable to me is, itself, remarkable — this is the sort of thing we on the internet are known for isn’t it?

    However, despite my disagreement with your obvious distaste for the film, I don’t think I loved it either — the crotchety old man stuff is pretty tiresome, and the way every goddamned movie seems to think we should all believe in God in order to have happy lives continues to piss me off. But I did find it funny how the Padre was waffling back and forth for a moment… I began to think he was gonna grab a couple shotguns and stand up with Walt. ? I’d watch it.

    In the end, though, Walt’s little revenge / suicide mission served less as a statement about how his feelings have changed and more about him saying “fuck it, I’m dying anyway, might as well go out with a bang” — making the contrivance of the plot even more ridiculous. And what’s up with Clint Eastwood getting so old? It’s really disheartening.

    Ugh, now that I’m writing about it maybe I do hate it as much as you? Time to watch Unforgiven again.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    bah, looks like my link got messed up, here’s the proper line:

    “I began to think he was gonna grab a couple shotguns and stand up with Walt. How’s kickass would a movie like that have been? I’d watch it.”

    That’s what I get for skipping the preview button.

  • Joe

    MaryAnn, why do you consistently respond in such an arrogant and rude manner towards anyone who disagrees with you?

    Take TJ, for example – he wasn’t one of the people here who slandered you or made disparaging comments about your sexuality. He simply expressed how much he REALLY liked a movie that you didn’t.

    But that didn’t stop you from responding in a rude, arrogant and sarcastic manner.

    Honestly, why do you even bother having a comments section at all? It seems that anyone who has the temerity to disagree with you is treated as a target for you to practice the art of the witty put-down.

    It’s such a shame. You are a very intelligent and articulate reviewer, who considers things from multiple perspectives…. it’s a shame that you don’t apply these skills to the online discussions in your comments section, and instead behave so rudely and arrogantly.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    But that didn’t stop you from responding in a rude, arrogant and sarcastic manner.

    Joe, this is ridiculous: none of those adjectives applies to her response to TJ’s post (though I plead the fifth with regard to her entire body of work, which does seem to bleed delighted arrogance from time to time (which is so hot)). No, she’s spewing a little vitriol at the movie itself and its creators, sure, but not at TJ. He posited a “story” that just wasn’t reflected in the actual film; it was more like something he drew on from his own past, which us perfectly legitimate as a personal movie experience, but it simply has no merit in reality — meaning, as MaryAnn said, that story is not the one told by Gran Torino.

    I submit that you’re reading emotion into her posts that just isn’t present. And what’s really a shame that while you can seemingly recognize someone who “considers things from multiple perspectives” you have not yet, apparently, earned that merit badge yourself.

  • Jan Willem

    MaryAnn’s response concerned a technical matter: showing and telling as dramatic devices. (Very briefly put, you need to show your audience an event, problem or relationship in action for them to be moved by it. For most people a mere mention will not be evocative enough. Although for some, of course, it will, as evidenced by the above.) Speaking as someone with a background in literary studies I think she makes a valid point. Its rather chatty delivery does not seem to be intended as a put-down at all. Personally, I think it’s rather charming.

  • Debbie

    I think that this review is clearly written by someone who doesn’t have experience with WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans. Working as a therapist for the VA, Eastwood’s character is staggeringly accurate. Several of the vet’s I know who are in their 70s and 80s relate to him on such a base level, in that so many have carried war trauma that have ruined their lives and who, near death, are attempting to find peace. Walt’s racism is clearly tied to his own guilt and a past he hasn’t come to terms with — it is far deeper and more complex than this reviewer conveys. Maybe it is simply because my job is doing trauma work with aging vets, but I really felt this reviewer did miss the mark. This is something real, not a Hallmark movie. This is something that many aging vet’s are trying to reconcile and this moving hits it with shocking accuracy.

  • JoshB

    I think that this review is clearly written by someone who doesn’t have experience with WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans

    Another mind reader. That’s a sweeping assumption to make about another person’s life experience based a few paragraphs worth of movie review.

  • BooBoo

    Great review. This movie sucked. It was a contrived, unoriginal, and disingenuous wad of phlegm aimed at giving clueless, closeted bigots small boners.

  • Interesting

    posted by BooBoo (Sun Jan 11 09, 8:57PM)

    Great review. This movie sucked. It was a contrived, unoriginal, and disingenuous wad of phlegm aimed at giving clueless, closeted bigots small boners.

    BooBoo-

    Really? These are your thoughts? Wow. To each his own, but those are some pretty rash, seemingly unrational claims to make. If anything, this film harbors a strong message against bigotry and discrimination. Just because a theme is portrayed in a movie does not mean that the movie’s directors, actors and writers mean to validate that theme in any way. To suggest such is ludicrous, and I might be missing the point of your post, but without ascertaining your true opinions, I am left to run on assumptions alone.

    Let me try to think of an example to demonstrate the folly of the logic I described above…

    Okay, perhaps not the best example, but the only one I could come up with on short notice. American Psycho was a screenplay born from a novel, that depicted a 1980s yuppie with a blood lust that materializes into several brutal rapes and murders. Now, in America, we have been made aware of the existence of serial killers and rapists, and some have, unfortunately, directly experienced their detrimental affect on society. I think you would be hard pressed to say that American Psycho was a “contrived” effort “aimed at giving” closet killers and rapists or other sadists “small bonders” with any sense of accuracy or validity.

    I understand that you didn’t like the film, and that is completely fine. The reasons you cite, however, are just so incredibly fallacious.

    I suppose this was all probably a waste of time, because as a great man once said, “you can’t reason a man out of a position he didn’t reason himself into.”

  • Paso Mal

    Was the large amount of racism needed to make the point of who Walt was in this movie. Maybe, Maybe not. Other than that thought it was a fantastic and well made movie. I would assume the only group who would like it were the gang bangers who were showed up in the movie by an old man. To all the people posting who didnt like it, I point my finger at you and cock my thumb. “BANG”

  • MaryAnn

    So, racism is bad, Paso Mal, but threatening with violence people who disagree with you is cool?

    This is bordering on trollish. Even if it is a reference to the movie itself.

  • Erik G

    I agree with Debbie above. Problem is, there are some aspects of the human heart that are angry and dark, and no amount of politically-correctizing is going to get rid of it. Sorry! MJ you seem to think that there is nothing redeeming about Walt whatsoever, based solely on the fact that he is a crotchety old bastard at the beginning of the movie. Never mind how his family treats him, or that he has tortured himself with perceived sins in the war for decades. Isn’t it obvious that his bluster and growling are all due to being tormented? Or does the moment he spouts a racial slur make him “the devil” for all eternity? I hate racism too, but Walt is obviously racist toward *everybody*, mainly because he hates himself so much.

    The point of the movie I think was that making peace with yourself, no matter how painful, is worth it even if it happens at the end of life–that’s what the message of Christianity is supposed to be about (not the smaltzy crap you hear from televangelists)–which is also a part of his transformation, i.e. restoring his lost faith. I know you’re an atheist, and that’s cool, but surely you can understand how his own personal experience was meaningful to him, in that he chose the path of saving his new friends in a way that didn’t involve more guilt for himself.

    I got the impression that Walt used all those epithets as if to say “you people”; i.e. not him–a reflection of his loneliness and despair. Notice he didn’t use any of the really charged slurs like the “n” word, when obviously he could have. They’re more like narrow minded labels rather than full blown insults, and its a reflection of his feeling severely alienated.

  • Interesting

    I would just like to point out that making things politically correct has got to be the largest exercise in futility that the liberal left has ever come up with. And that’s saying something.

    If you spray cologne on a homeless person, he’s still filthy. On the surface he might emit a less offensive odor, but when it comes down to it, you have not changed anything.

    This allusion represents the misconception employed by all advocates of political correctness. Even if Walt were to be polite to all the minorities he encountered, it would not change his opinions, and would not change his intent.

    Also, I would like to point out that no one seems to notice or think significant the grandmother who sits on the porch of the Hmong house and criticizes Walt, in much the same way he criticizes her initially. This, to me, is the greatest testament to the anti-discriminatory message of the film. They each experienced the hard effects of war first hand, and they both have their demons regarding the issue. By providing another character similar to Walt, the writer drove to effectively say “yes, past generations were bigoted, and perhaps they had their reasons, but there is a brighter time ahead.”

    Anyway, it doesn’t much matter, I suppose.

  • Interesting

    …by allusion of course I meant analogy…

    sorry, brain fried.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    If you spray cologne on a homeless person, he’s still filthy. On the surface he might emit a less offensive odor, but when it comes down to it, you have not changed anything.

    Just something I noticed about this that kinda strips away your moral authority: shouldn’t that be “if you spray cologne on a FILTHY person, he’s still filthy” rather than making the assumption that all homeless people are filthy?

    I’m just teasing you, of course, but your assertion that it was the “liberal left” who introduced this notion of political correctness is strongly biased as well. Everybody gets offended by something, regardless of the labels they stick on themselves. And while I get nauseous at the way Political Correctness has abused the English Language, I also think it’s important to make an effort to consider things before you say them, so that when you do offend somebody it was on purpose.

  • Interesting

    Fair enough, I guess I was applying the following logic to my analogy:

    I have seen hundreds of homeless people; all of the homeless people I have seen have been filthy, therefore: all homeless people are filthy.

    Not an incredibly strong argument, but I intended to add some sort of (admittedly sadistic) humor to the analogy. I know your objection was raised in jest, but still, I had a feeling someone would call me out on it ;).

    Also, that’s an interesting argument in favor of political correctness that I had not previously considered. “So that when you do offend somebody it was on purpose.”

    And no, the those on liberal left weren’t the sole instigators our generations, well lets just say, “reform” on language, but I think you would be remiss to deny that they have been its main proponents throughout its existence. And yes, I will concede that everyone gets offended by something, however, I don’t believe that that fact should have any affect on the First Amendment, and, in fact would say that given that rule, the opposite would apply.

    Anyway. I digress.

  • Interesting

    of our generation’s*

    …god what a day.

  • MaryAnn

    Erik G wrote:

    MJ you seem to think that there is nothing redeeming about Walt whatsoever

    My issues are not with Walt. They are with the story about Walt.

    Interesting wrote:

    I would just like to point out that making things politically correct has got to be the largest exercise in futility that the liberal left has ever come up with. And that’s saying something.

    Please tell me who is advocating political correctness anywhere here.

  • Interesting

    “Great review. This movie sucked. It was a contrived, unoriginal, and disingenuous wad of phlegm aimed at giving clueless, closeted bigots small boners.”

    This post comes to mind. Oh and wait! I quoted it earlier! I don’t feel like re-reading all of these comments, but I’m sure it was brought up again.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    Fair enough, I guess I was applying the following logic to my analogy:

    I have seen hundreds of homeless people; all of the homeless people I have seen have been filthy, therefore: all homeless people are filthy.

    Not an incredibly strong argument, but I intended to add some sort of (admittedly sadistic) humor to the analogy. I know your objection was raised in jest, but still, I had a feeling someone would call me out on it ;).

    Again, you’ve seen a hundred filthy people you assumed were homeless. How many homeless people do you pass without realizing they are? Perhaps a clean-shaven man in a suit on the way to a job interview who’s been living at a shelter. Etc… Honestly, I don’t care all that much; people can say whatever they want, but you’ve apparently deluded yourself into thinking you are seeing clearly when you are obviously not, and I guess I just want to help. :)

    Also I like arguing about stuff.

    Also I am homeless.

  • Chris

    Someone should point out that Mary Ann thinks that Walt changed in a Hallmark type of way. He never changed Mary Ann. He’s a smart ass and will always be a smart ass. But he’s always been loyal to those that do good work, such as his barber and his friend in construction, and detested those that take easy routes and have no sense of loyalty/respect, such as the gang and his own family. Just because he helped someone he found had the same ideals and was a different race doesnt mean he changed, it just means he finally took a closer look at his neighbors and determined he liked what he saw and most likely that hadnt happened to him in a long time.

  • Interesting

    Again, you’ve seen a hundred filthy people you assumed were homeless. How many homeless people do you pass without realizing they are? Perhaps a clean-shaven man in a suit on the way to a job interview who’s been living at a shelter. Etc… Honestly, I don’t care all that much; people can say whatever they want, but you’ve apparently deluded yourself into thinking you are seeing clearly when you are obviously not, and I guess I just want to help. :)

    Also I like arguing about stuff.

    Also I am homeless.

    It’s inductive reasoning. Obviously not as strong as a deductive proof, but still often accepted for the purpose of argument. Also, I think if they’re clean shaven, on the way to a job interview, they’re probably in between homes and temporarily unemployed. To continue such an argument, a solid definition of homeless needs to follow.

  • JasonJ

    Also I am homeless.

    With access to the internet and posting on a movie review site. How’s that job hunting goin’?

  • Gloria

    I’m amazed by how many reactions this review has drawn. I saw such an unremarkable movie that I thought this would just fly under the radar.

    I think the central problem with Gran Torino — aside from other quibbles like limp acting (especially Thao) and the amazing abuse of cliches (Walt’s children are *cartoonishly* moronic) — was its need to shift tones organically. It had to balance what was a really dark look at race and violence (clue to its darkness: rape is never a light narrative device) with what was inevitably a funny role for Eastwood — your crotchety yelling old man, a traditional figure for ridicule.

    Didn’t work. It was just too uneven, and it wasn’t strong enough to pull something as tricky as a dark drama when it kept begging you to laugh inappropriately. The best scene was Walt’s banter with his barber — THAT was funny, and meant to be.

    The ending gave me a little hope that I’d permit a pass, but when it closed on Eastwood spread out Christ-like (so, so heavy-handed) and finally on him SINGING, I just collapsed in laughter.

  • Hoyt

    I think that this is a good movie, despite its small flaws. Yes, the acting was at times wooden (the Director might counter with the phrase “natural”), and of course there is an element of cliche to the “we’re all the same inside” plot. But, to me, a measure of a film is “do I want to keep watching?” Yes. Every minute. It was never boring and at times it was heart-pounding. What else can we ask of a film?

  • MaryAnn

    (Walt’s children are *cartoonishly* moronic)

    Really? I thought they seemed okay. Maybe the one son and his wife were a little too quick to push the retirement-community idea on him, but that was, at worst, maybe a bit thoughtless. Although not necessarily, either. There simply isn’t anywhere near enough information about Walt’s family to understand his animosity toward them. The granddaughter may have been tending toward feeling overly entitled, but that’s how teenagers are.

    But cartoonishly moronic? How? Am I forgetting something?

  • Chris

    “The granddaughter may have been tending toward feeling overly entitled, but that’s how teenagers are.”

    No Mary Ann, that’s how spoiled teenagers that are handed everything are.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    JasonJ (Tue Jan 13 09, 12:15PM):

    With access to the internet and posting on a movie review site. How’s that job hunting goin’?

    Pretty good. I interviewed for Guy Who Doesn’t Get Joke. It’s just part-time, though, and there’s some stiff competition.

    Gloria (Tue Jan 13 09, 12:38PM):

    The ending gave me a little hope that I’d permit a pass, but when it closed on Eastwood spread out Christ-like (so, so heavy-handed) and finally on him SINGING, I just collapsed in laughter.

    Oh I know, right? It felt like it was supposed to be a powerful callback but it really just made Clint seem even older than he already did. The song itself was really good though, when that other guy started singing.

  • MaryAnn

    No Mary Ann, that’s how spoiled teenagers that are handed everything are.

    Yes, that’s true. But it’s still nowhere near “cartoonishly moronic.”

  • blake

    I’ve never read a thread like this on the FF before.
    Is it me or the more popular the site becomes the greater the amount of…passionate comments get made.

    I’ll definitely check this out so I can join the debate. But by then the passion would have died.
    It always does.

  • JasonJ

    Pretty good. I interviewed for Guy Who Doesn’t Get Joke. It’s just part-time, though, and there’s some stiff competition.

    Fairly pedestrian bit of smart-assery. Try again…

  • Nathan

    The most unbelievable thing about this movie was that someone was interested in Lions season tickets.

    SPOILERS

    Seriously though, because it was Clint Eastwood, I found this movie to have value beyond its success or failure as a film. And I think that generosity toward a living icon is what is driving the box office and giving people the impression that this is a better film than it actually is.

    The race thing worked for me. As I think it was the filthy homeless commenter that pointed it out, the movie wasn’t about Eastwood’s character having an epiphany and a change of heart regarding race. It was about him being put in the circumstance of realizing that he had more in common with an immigrant culture than he did his own and that tradition and social justice trump race.

    What didn’t work for me (besides the wildly uneven acting) was the personal redemption storyline. They just didn’t dig deep enough into that idea for me to feel like it was a real motivation – and the JC pose at the end was a real groaner.

    But overall I enjoyed the movie because it was most likely the last appearance of Josey Wales, Dirty Harry, William Munny, etc. If Eastwood wants to make an Afterschool Special on steroids at this point in his career (and sing over the closing credits) he has that right. And everyone can just shut up and like it!

    Or at least respect your elders.

    p.s. I’m glad the dog lived. I thought something bad was going to happen to the dog.

  • Gloria

    Maryann, maybe it wasn’t “cartoonishly moronic”, so I apologize for choosing these words over others.

    I probably got that impression because there just wasn’t a moment where you felt you were seeing “regular” spoiled people rather than caricatures designed for the sole purpose of highlighting how righteousness in his anger and resentment that Walt is.

    Some instances:

    - Letting your daughter show up in her street clothes to her grandmother’s funeral (I had a really hard time believing anyone would actually do this, even if it was probably played for laughs, but maybe somebody has had a different experience?)

    - Grandmother’s *funeral*!

    - Buying Walt a reaching arm AND a telephone with giant numbers for his birthday (and speaking to him as if he can’t possibly know what a telephone is) … following up by pushing a retirement home

    - After Walt’s death, their naked greed over his possessions

    I only recall the impression that the writers were really piling it on. We didn’t see *that* much of his kids, but enough that I felt some variety was called for in their portrayal.

    The single moment that felt like his kids were real people, even if thoughtless and selfish, was when Walt called his son out of the blue … no anger, no rage, just a chat … and after hanging up, the son paused, seeming to finally *think* and feel something was up with his dad. He ended up not going anywhere with it, but this glimmer showed some humanity — like maybe he didn’t like interacting with his father because he couldn’t understand him, or worse, felt like he could never even begin to even if he wanted to.

  • Gloria

    Ah, oh, right … somebody remembers the moment when Walt’s son calls him up just to hit up his connection for Lions season’s tickets! Another one. I mean, after the first couple of times, I think we understand his children are, if not horrible people, just horrible to him.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    JasonJ (Wed Jan 14 09, 1:39AM):

    Fairly pedestrian bit of smart-assery. Try again…

    Come on now, it was more like a smart-ass bit of pedantry; and it was funny as hell too. Admit it!

    Back to the topic: the thing about Walt’s kids is, they’re only addressed at a very shallow level — how he treats them (and treated them) is left to minor asides and inferences. They very obviously care about him, and their so-called “naked greed” is a very human feeling, especially if you imagine your father being such a huge asshole. The bit about the phone and the reaching tool was them assuaging their own consciences to better embrace the idea of just leaving him alone for the rest of his life — also very human.

    Then again, they are indeed phenomenal douchebags, every one of them. It’s unfortunate that the film lets us pile hatred on them for that, though, without properly addressing why they behave as they do. Better to leave them out completely than make them such an easy foil for our “hero”. It’s just lazy writing.

  • JasonJ

    Come on now, it was more like a smart-ass bit of pedantry; and it was funny as hell too. Admit it!

    Okay, it was a little funny, but I don’t have to admit it…. :)

  • MaryAnn

    I probably got that impression because there just wasn’t a moment where you felt you were seeing “regular” spoiled people rather than caricatures designed for the sole purpose of highlighting how righteousness in his anger and resentment that Walt is.

    Okay, I see why you feel that way. I feel they were seriously underdrawn. Perhaps if they were richer characters, I could see them as richly drawn morons. :->

  • OMB

    “The more I go over it in my mind, the more Gran Torino strikes me as paean to conservatism, and an assertion that “real” US values are conservative.”

    The line above is from a comment by somebody named stellerjay, which was about a million times more interesting and insightful than the actual review, or any of the other commments that followed. I can’t believe nobody else has mentioned it, because I think he hit the nail on the head. I suggest you ignore the original review, and most of the other comments, and read that one if you want any real insight into this movie, rather than somebody trying to sound hip and failing…

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    OMB (Thu Jan 15 09, 11:41AM):

    I can’t believe nobody else has mentioned it, because I think he hit the nail on the head.

    This is easy enough to explain: you guys are pounding nails into the wrong board.

    First off, “Conservative” and “Liberal” are not scientific terms; thus they have different meanings to different individuals. So, espousing one of these two mercurial “viewpoints” over the other is entirely subjective and therefore meaningless. The examples stellerjay gives are well thought out, they just don’t necessarily fit a “conservative” viewpoint — misogyny and machismo are more cultural than political, especially as portrayed in Gran Torino, and that is certainly not one of the movie’s many flaws.

    Second, what’s wrong with trying to sound hip? All the kids are doing it. Take your vitriol outside and sit on it, square!

  • Guest Observer

    I came across this review, while out of curiosity…I was just trying to see what folks thought of the film. I just get frustrated… I used to work at a video store, and you get a lot of pretentious attitudes…especially when it comes to anything that people deem “unrealistic”. I get frustrated because, most people who act in a condescending way, don’t understand that there are different kinds of people who have experienced different things, and that is what shapes a person’s tastes. Anyways, I never bashed on somebody for renting something I had no desire to see, like “Sex in the city” for example, it’s just not my thing, yes I am a man, and I know other men who do like it, I’m not trying to be “macho” or say that it’s only a girl thing. I just don’t like it, but I would never bash on it out of respect for those who did like it. I showed similar respect to people who liked many other genres that I didn’t like, but I never was shown the same respect. I’d be watching an action movie, or something simple like “Star Wars”, or “Back to the future, I’d watch movies like that because I’ve seen them billions of times and it wouldn’t bother me if I’d missed a few minutes while helping customers. Yeah,I’d watch deeper movies later at home, but people only assumed that i was this meat-head only watching movies that “I could handle”. It’s just what I enjoy, are you really going to antagonize somebody for watching movies?? Yeah I am “educated”, by most standards, but rather than walking around “flexing my brain”, I strongly feel that humility and respect are far better things to show, or exercise. Anyways, When I watched these movies, I was constantly met with scoffs, people would roll their eyes, people would blatantly insult my intelligence, and make extremely rude remarks. That’s why, I guess, some people have gotten so heated over this review, and other comments made about it. When I read it I felt that same sting that I felt from those people at the video-store. I’d watch something and they’d always say it wasn’t realistic. “That never happens.” Yeah, in your 9-5 world, certain things don’t happen, but in the world I come from, not everything happens in the linear way that you’d believe. The cops can’t be called in certain areas because they don’t go to certain areas. Yes, people do very violent things, for no reason at times. Yes there are still bad-asses that would react like Dirty Harry. Just because you haven’t been around something or because it isn’t “what I would do”, doesn’t mean you should dismiss it as stupid or false. I mean, these are the same people who roll their eyes when I’m heading into or leaving the gym. They laugh and confirm their stereotypes, but are so quick to make so much “noise” at the quickest hint that they’ve been treated wrong or insulted, not realizing they are doing it to others. I’ve never disrespected someone for being who they are, so why is it that I take so much heat, just for being a guy? It’s just who I am. Ah, well. Here I am opening up to a bunch of folks I don’t know, at 3′am in the morning. Everyone needs to vent once in a while I guess. I’m just trying to explain why people may have gotten all “aggro” over the review. It’s wasn’t what you were talking about, maybe it was just they way you said it, or maybe, like in my case…you just reminded me of similar battles I have dealt with in the past.

  • mike

    I’m glad this movie generated so many comments – It really was a good, and controversial movie, especially in today’s PC world. What I think MAJ missed the boat on was that even though this kinda was “Grumpy old Man, The Movie” in a way, there really are old gruff bastards like Walt out there. Still. And they’re not bad guys, and not bad because they are racist and white either. The Hmong grandma was exactly like Walt, all races have the racist old fart like him and her still around. The girl in the movie, Sue, recognized that, and she is part of the multi-cultural PC type folks that we are. The point is that although yes, these old folks are embarassing to be around younger and more civilized company, there’s a lot you can still learn from them.
    I do agree with a couple of posters on here that this was a race swap of sorts with the “Karate Kid” movie, and yes, Walt’s grandkids were a bit too cartoonishly moronic and insensitive little shits for real life. It helped show the gap between Walt and the next 2 generations.
    There were a lot of older conservative people in the audience, I noticed, but my wife and I are young, fairly liberal, and bicultural folks who love racial humor like the kind in the Chapelle Show, and we laughed through a large portion of the movie. The racial comments were great, because they were so shocking and straightforward. You just don’t expect to hear that kind of stuff anymore but it was pretty funny in the movie. Great Film – go see it, don’t let the review turn you off. Except for the end credits, yes Clint Eastwood sings and it’s terrible. Walt wouldn’t have sung, so I don’t know why Clint decided to add his own soundtrack. Again – great film – deserves awards, and deserves all of these comments and discussion, that’s what makes movies good.

  • JoshB

    @Guest Observer:

    Ever heard the phrase “wall of text?” You could have just written a Dickensian masterpiece and no one will know it.

    Paragraph breaks are your friends.

  • MaryAnn

    What I think MAJ missed the boat on was that even though this kinda was “Grumpy old Man, The Movie” in a way, there really are old gruff bastards like Walt out there.

    I know that. I just don’t think this is a well-told story about one of them.

  • JasonJ

    Okay so the wife and I went and saw this today. I won’t rail on MaryAnn about her interpretation of what she saw. I have met many men like Walt, and have been stunned by the things they have said. Whether the storyline is plausible, why wouldn’t it be? Walt’s actions were to correct the wrongs he was seeing. He had softened a little to the neighbors but mostly out of empathy towards what was happening. My take was he was intolerant of victimizers, and he was intolerant of victims. He actually was pretty intolerant of a lot but victimization tops his list.

    Part of it was his war experiences, which would have solidified a lot of his perception of the world. Another part was his own kids and grand kids, which I hate to say it, I have seen in the real world many many times. Worthless entitled little brats, I see them daily. He lost his wife which was probably the one person who kept him grounded. I can see his point about staying off his lawn. Anyone who pays a mortgage can see his point.

    Was it the most awesome movie ever, no, but in my mind and my wife’s mind the review does paint a picture that does not match what is shown on the screen.

  • Anne-Kari

    JasonJ:

    THANK YOU for posting a comment in which you disagree with the review, explain why your take is different, but refrain from hurling childish insults at MaryAnn or taking her negative reaction as some kind of personal insult.

    See? People can disagree without behaving like trolls.

  • JasonJ

    THANK YOU for posting a comment in which you disagree with the review, explain why your take is different, but refrain from hurling childish insults at MaryAnn or taking her negative reaction as some kind of personal insult.

    You’re welcome. Besides the fact that this is MaryAnn’s house, I have visited this site since Titanic came out and I have derived a great amount of pleasure from it. I’m not being a fanboy, I just appreciate the work she does and see no reason to come in and deliberately insult her. I don’t always agree with her reviews, but if we were to talk percentages, I would say she is about 85% in line with how I think when it comes to visual entertainment.

    When I don’t agree with a review, most of the time I can see why she writes what she writes. I also think some people do get way too emotionally invested when someone disagrees with them. Me, I could care less if someone disagrees with me. That is why I applaud MaryAnn, her never ending snark, and her lack of taking crap off of people.

  • Rusty

    Too bad you missed the mark. This review is much more cliche than the actual movie. THere are so many flaws in the things you say, or assume. But, since old people can’t change their ways, I won’t bother giving you a clue about your narrow-minded and silly little ‘review’.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    Rusty (Mon Jan 19 09, 6:55PM):

    Too bad you missed the mark. This review is much more cliche than the actual movie. THere are so many flaws in the things you say, or assume. But, since old people can’t change their ways, I won’t bother giving you a clue about your narrow-minded and silly little ‘review’.

    Sounds like you saw a different movie, too. You think Walt changed his ways? He got cancer and wanted to die. There was no moment of clarity, no remorse — he obviously did things in the war he was ashamed of, but is way of atoning for them was to get himself killed by a gang. Deep.

    Anyway, we’re kicking a dead horse by now.

    And hey Rusty, pretending you’re not gonna list your ‘clues’ doesn’t fool anyone into thinking you actually have any specific thoughts about anything; it just makes you sound like a jerk.

  • Gabriel

    Rather than touch on the interpretations and perceptions of the movie’s content, I’d like to talk a little bit about it’s form. Depending on the viewer, both form and content play an important role, to varying degrees, in how they gauge it’s quality. As a math-head, I generally put form over content, on a 60/40 ratio, and it was mainly because of this that I was thoroughly impressed with Gran Torino.

    The colors, the angles, the subtle southwestern guitar and piano soundtrack. Ample breezes, decrepit dying surroundings, and intimate camera placement (I cringed slightly during the scene where Tao flips on the fan, and it starts wobbling menacingly overhead) really go a long way, in my opinion, and are one of the reasons Cohen Brothers movies are so well received on a subliminal level.

    As far as content, the movie seemed a bit play-quality in the acting and story structure department, but the general audacity and neo-integrity of Walt was incredibly entertaining to watch. As a part time misanthrope, I can see how people would delight in Walt’s outpouring of hate and general disapproval with humanity, as it serves as a voice for their unconscious minds.

    I thought the review was smug and somewhat shallow, but it made me laugh despite myself several times.

  • sinbad the sinner

    ok so we’ve got the flawed aspects of gran torino, make a better one reviewer

  • aj

    go to the vidoe store hire out some of clints classics and go and educate yourself…this movie was a culmination of all of his great movies…did you ever do comprehension in english at school?? go and review shitty girly films if you want what your looking for

  • travis

    spend more time writing fan fiction and less time sharing your opinions on movies, please. because your opinions are uneducated, uninformed, and ignorant.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    Yeah! don’t u no a good moive when u see 1?

  • Anne-Kari

    for real cuz U r not supossed to have an opinion, reviewer girl unless its the same as mine so shutup you must be lonly and boring plus you are biast. also U keep using punctuation and capitol letters and grammer so you must think you R so much better than everyone else and i am way better than you!!!!

  • wats

    i love picklejuice

  • http://jack jack

    Thank you so much for posting this review,
    it’s seems the rest of the world has gone insane giving this movie 5 out of 5 star ratings. I just can’t trust my judgment in movies anymore.
    The film is a ridiculous mash-up of cliches, unresolved ideas, and warped morals that leave you with some sick, distorted view of reality. For example: the americanizing of the kid?
    I cried from laughter nearly the whole way through with lines like ‘fetch me another beer, dragon lady’, and ‘that old hag hates my ass’.
    Clint’s acting? The stupid, overacted growl he keeps up thoughout the movie should be enough to dismiss him as a respected actor immediately.

    Truly shocking film, but at the same time the funniest movie i’ve seen in a long time. Destined to become a B-grade classic.

  • Robert

    I liked the film, haven’t said that about many movies in recent years. Eastwood’s emotional “range” has always been the object of ridicule, but here he’s playing a guy whose external displays go to annoyance and anger more than anything. I feel fairly certain he’s quite aware that it comes across as funny when he does a slow burn as at the funeral or when his kids are trying to talk him into a retirement condo.

    Per Chuck

    The old man beats up a gang member and a few scenes later the gang shoots up the neighbors house? What? Come on

    While of course this is a screenwriting decision, it makes sense. They’re punks acting out of malevolence, what they do “makes sense” only on that thug level. Shooting up the house, raping the girl is sticking it to Walt, and proclaiming their dominance.

    Per Newbs

    You think Walt changed his ways? He got cancer and wanted to die. There was no moment of clarity, no remorse — he obviously did things in the war he was ashamed of, but is way of atoning for them was to get himself killed by a gang. Deep.

    He’s atoning and putting his impending death to good tactical use. He has no intention of going out wasting away in some damn hospital bed with tubes up his nose. I sure wouldn’t. If these events hadn’t unfolded I guarantee he would have shot himself eventually.

    MAJ mentions that she feels it was a Wilford Brimley part. Yeah, he’s the “old duffer” from central casting but the reality is, old war vets come in various shapes. Some of them are tall and angular.

    People are complex. Being a “racist” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re all for burning a cross on someone’s lawn. He uses racial epithets, and may harbor contempt, but yet feels haunting guilt over having killed some “gooks”. I can see how someone can harbor both feelings. He came to the rescue of Thao because he hates thugs worse than he hates Koreans.

    He could have killed those street corner thugs and probably gotten off with the testimony of Sue and her wimpy boyfriend. I realize the liberals in the audience will feel that Walt’s proper response would have been to recognize them as disenfranchised victims of oppression and for Walt to reflect upon how he’s to blame. Walt doesn’t have any patience for that kind of crap. Thugs behave that way because their mindset is they can get away with it. He shows them that eventually, you won’t get away with it. You want to live like a baboon, eventually you’re going to encounter a tougher baboon. Whether they grasp the lesson is another question.

    Of course, I’m pessimistic whether in the real world the gang would actually do their full stretch and mend their ways if & when they got out.

  • Robert

    Btw, watching a clip on Youtube and being reminded of a line in the movie – I concur completely with his assessment of the priest – holding the hands of superstitious old ladies and promising them eternity.

    Ultimately the priest is at least as evil as the gang thugs.

    No I’m not being facetious.

  • Shawn

    There’s more to this movie than the cliche of an old crotchety man finally learning the meaning of life.

    There’s a reason why it happens.

    The story about an old man who is set in his traditional ways IS a cliche. And it isn’t completely believable, no. The point behind it is that it isn’t about an old racist. It’s about an old traditional.

    The focus of the movie is more on his coming to terms with his life, than it is about him changing his view. It was pretty clear that after his wife died, there was nothing left but his PBR, his cigarettes, and his dog. Even though he acted as though that was the way he wanted it, it was obvious during the scenes where he was being brought gifts by the neighbors, that his hatred was more fueled by self-hate, for the three reasons he listed at the end of the movie.

    It was clear during other scenes in the movie that he wasn’t overtly racist. He was just traditional, and felt like young people, and other races were imposing upon the “right way” of living. He could care less if they were asian, white, black, or hispanic.

    It’s not hard to believe that in the following weeks after losing the only other human being in his life, that he would start to view things a little differently.

  • Nik Rowley

    I’ve gotta say…I disagree with this review

    Not having looked around at any other reviews for this movie, I’m not sure what popular opinion is for Gran Turino…although, I do know it was nominated for an award or two (did it win? Again, not sure)

    So, my opinion is pretty unbiased, here – I just saw the movie and happened to like it. The review is good, I think, in that some of what comes out of Eastwood’s mouth is a little over the top and probably was put there just for laughs. That said, I think racism is in the eye of the beholder…it’s hard to say just what people are laughing at; for me, I laughed AT this old geezer. I didn’t think what he said was too hilarious.

    Where I disagree on the review, is the depth of character *minor spoilers*: I thought that Eastwood’s confession towards the end of the movie was telling. I thought the character would surely say something about the war, and his guilt…instead, his guilt lies with his family, and things that might seem trivial to other people. He never really got to know his sons, or something along those lines (forget his exact words), and it has bothered him most of his life. In such a small scene, you learn more about his character than in the rest of the movie – I had to think about it afterwards to really get it. That part is subtle, too, not bothering to explain why, as the character, true to form, would not elaborate.
    I dunno…this movie, to me, was real. The violence was real and tangible, and that’s what I think it was more about, how gang violence can effect a small neighborhood on such a drastic level. This was no action movie, Eastwood never fired a bullet, and that says more about him than anything to come from his mouth. Actions speak louder than words, right?

    Sorry, but I think you missed the point of the movie entirely. Your criticism is justified and well thought out, but misses the larger scope of the film. This was far from a cliche, genre movie. Last point here: happy ending? Where? You did see what happened, right?
    Whatever. Think what you will, but I do encourage you to see this film again, and maybe look a little deeper. I have a healthy respect for Eastwood’s work, and I haven’t even seen Dirty Harry or any of his older films…although I plan to. This movie, and stuff like Million Dollar Baby won me over

  • Robert

    Per Nik Rowley:

    I think you missed the point of the movie entirely.

    I think MAJ was basically predestined to not like this film. Being a liberal female with PC sensibilities and having never been in the military, I believe there are elements of Walt she’s simply not going to get.

    Like you I felt there was a lot in this film that rang true. I actually identify with Walt in many ways. I tend to be a loner, I don’t buy into a lot of the kumbaya-ism that’s in vogue, not necessarily a “people person”.

    No, I didn’t do any combat tours but I was quite familiar with the business end of an M16 and it was understood that being called upon to go kill people could become an immediate reality.

    The culture of the military is one I don’t think you can truly absorb vicariously. Can MAJ envision herself running in combat boots at 4 am and chanting things like “Napalm sticks to kids – oo-ah!”?

    I don’t know that watching it again would sway her. I just sense there’s just a lot about Walt that MaryAnn isn’t going to connect with.

  • drew ryce

    Robert: MaryAnn has spent exactly as much time in uniform as Nick Schenk the films creator and screenwriter. Nobody connected to the film, in any significant way, spent so much as a single minute in combat and Eastwood hasn’t had any personal contact with blue collar America in 40 years.

    The point is, MaryAnn is no more destined to hate the film than they were destined to be unable to make it. Look up her rave review for Master and Commander. That film was all about military honor and sacrifice and 18th century to boot.

    In short, don’t attack the reviewer when you disagree with the review. If you think she missed something then stick with that.

    BTW, my son, a career Marine currently serving in Iraq having previously served in Afghanistan, didn’t think much of the film either. His take was that Walt was an ass and whining about the horror of combat 50 years later was a losers excuse.

  • Robert

    drew ryce

    don’t attack the reviewer when you disagree with the review.

    Wasn’t attacking MAJ – my observations weren’t meant as perjorative, just pondering some points that might have a bearing on her take on the film. She makes no secret of her liberal persuasion. Walt seems like the kind of guy who would grate every liberal sensibility. And she’s also not a guy, and there are aspects of Walt that I think are going to be foreign to her disposition, life experience and psychology. I’ll be a buck she’s never been in an actual fistfight or had words with some prick in a parking lot fully prepared to throw down with them.

    Whether Eastwood was a combat veteran or not, various aspects of his portrayal rang true to me.

    Saying there’s grounds to compare MAJ’s reviews of this film and Master & Commander because of a military element is just silly. The two films are utterly dissimilar.

    If I’ve ever read MAJ’s review on it I don’t recall what she picked up on. Don’t ‘spose Russell Crowe’s presence could have had something to do with it?

    ;-)

    Your son is entitled to his opinion, but to dismiss “whining” about horrors 50 years ago is discounting very real issues many combat veterans deal with. I’ve certainly known some who were clearly deeply affected long after the fact.

    Combat experiences can vary tremendously. There’s too many variables to paint it with such a broad brush. A WWII bomber pilot vs a grunt who was on the beach on D-Day, or in the jungle in Vietnam. And there can be differences in the social climate etc. There’s also the reality that not everyone deals with the same situation the same way.

  • Robert

    my observations weren’t meant as perjorative

    Or even to be pejorative…

  • mr 64

    Walt is cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Pc buttkisser

    This had to be one of the most disgraceful reviews I’ve read in a long time. Yes, this was a movie that required you to think, so I guess people that do not have that ability may view this movie in a different light. It was obvious that a woman wrote the review because the way the review says certain things shows that the writer HAS NO CLUE as to what men fighting in the Korean War faced. I suggest that this idiot of a movie reviewer do her “research” before sputtering out ignorant man-hater lines of text that diminish her credibility with each word of hate spoken. It reminds me of something my parents would tell me, “imagine yourself in their shoes and maybe you’ll see things differently.” Well, i tried to do that with the person writing this review, but i started feeling too pissed off and hating myself because i was a man. Seriously, how can you expect to get a good review from someone who hates half of the world’s population? Gran Torino was a brilliant film that evidently, idiots that don’t possess the ability to think, won’t like. I mean come on, “crotchety”… seems like someone has Clint Eastwood’s crotch on their mind, so don’t write a crappy review because he won’t give you any!

  • mike

    I also think this film was rubbish. The dialogue was obvious and on the nose – the opening scene was full of awful dialogue telling us what we could already see. The acting was terrible – the scene with the “father” on the lawn standing in front of the gangster’s house with the police was the worst bit of acting i’ve ever seen on screen. Wooden? They’d combust if they were near an open fire.

    Really disappointed with this film. I loved Mystic River and The Changeling – did Clint actually read this awful script before he made the film. So full of plot holes and awful dialogue. This film couldn’t decide whether it was drama or slapstick shit comedy.

    V disappointed. Absolute pants. Clint was rubbish as well.

  • amanohyo

    Pc buttkisser, that had to be one of the most hilarious comments I’ve read in a long time. You might want to do a bit of “research” yourself before slinging around that ancient “all feminists/women I don’t like/women who disagree with me are man-haters stereotype,” like maybe… looking at the bias meter at the top of this page.

    Still, the crotchety comment made up for all the preceding silliness. Primarily because your entire comment is itself written in a crotchety tone, but also because you made the connection to Eastwood’s crotch in your own mind and your final insult implies that you consider Mr. Eastwood to be desirable. I think you might have some latent emotions that are trying to rise to the surface Mr. buttkisser.

    But seriously, you’re an adult now. When your parents were giving you your oh-so-successful empathy lessons, didn’t they also say something along the lines of, “not everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot?” I disagree with you about this movie, but I don’t think you’re an idiot because I don’t know you. I’ll remember that crotchety line though… you should write that down somewhere. It’s so desperately nonsensical that it’s actually funny.

    You might also consider explaining why you thought the film was brilliant. You imply that there are things in the film that only a veteran could appreciate; what are they?

  • margaret

    I enjoyed this film. I liked MJ’s alternative title for it too. My husband laughed hilariously every time he said those words. We pretty much took it at face value. We like Clint Eastwood and maybe it could be simplistically seen as Dirty Harry Grows Old… I thought it was funny. The old Hmong grandmother was as intolerant as Walt so demonstrating that racism is just a fact of life. We can only face it in the eye and always try to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, without compromising good values. Walt knew he was dying… this way he could go out in a blaze of glory as Dirty Harry grown old. maybe even unconscious satire was at play.

  • mr 64

    considering that this was a low budget, only one real acter in the entire movie, I thought that it was pretty good. The story was good, and the fact that he went from hating everybody to the kind of man he was in the end, I think it would be a great adition to the ol movie colection.

  • MaryAnn

    $33 million is not “low budget.”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    $33 million is not “low budget.”

    It’s not??

  • drew ryce

    No, it’s not. By comparison, Brokeback Mountain was budgeted at less than $12M.

    I would also add that if anybody besides Eastwood had done the film, it would have cost upwards up $65M. Eastwood as an actor has commanded an “A” list paycheck plus gross points for the past 30 years. By working for himself, Eastwood can keep his acting fee (which is reflected in the budget)down while still collecting the huge backend $$ (which are not reflected in the budget).

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    By comparison, Brokeback Mountain was budgeted at less than $12M.

    By comparison, Watchmen was budgeted at more than $120M. I’m curious where one then draws the line between “low” and “high” budget in a film industry with that kind of range? $33M certainly isn’t bargain basement, but it sure looks at least low-ish.

    Of course, what does it matter anyway? When has production budget been an indicator of quality? I mean there’s certainly a low end threshhold where even a “good” movie gets a qualified “good” (Clerks comes to mind). But there are plenty of high budget movies that are just gawdawful (Waterworld comes to mind).

  • MaryAnn

    Budget is no indicator of quality. I was merely setting mr 64 straight.

    What constitutes a high or low budget often depends on the film itself. For what *Gran Torino* is, $33 million is a lot of money: there are no FX, no stars (other than Eastwood), few sets, few locations, small cast, no unusual costume requirements… in fact, it’s hard to see where he spent $33 million on this movie.

    $33 million would be very little for a movie like *Watchmen,* however.

  • Robert

    in fact, it’s hard to see where he spent $33 million on this movie.

    Marketing?

    Then again, are they obligated to publicize accurate budget numbers? Wondering if one might claim a high (or low) number to enhance or otherwise position the perception of a film.

  • drew ryce

    Eastwood/Malpaso is known for it’s realistic, professional and well made films. GT without the expense of Eastwood as director and lead actor could have been made for about half the published budget or less. That said, Eastwood made it for a lot less than many other producers would have spent to get above line talent comparable to Eastwood.

    Simply put, Eastwood is a bargain, for Eastwood.

    There are standard industry definitions for “low budget”. Plenty of them, and from a variety of sources, including SAG and several dozen national and state film boards.

    Typical would be the BSÉ/IFB (Ireland):

    Empirical evidence of indigenous production during the past five years shows that for a feature film to be made in Ireland – with all crew paid at award rates, with all completion and delivery costs counted in, and with no deferred fees – to a standard of physical production that enables it to compete in the international theatrical market, a production budget of €4 million or more is required.

    Any Irish film produced in 2006 with a production cost of less than €4 million, therefore, should be considered as ‘low-budget’ for the purposes of State Aid rules. BSÉ/IFB may periodically propose upward revision of this figure to take account of production cost increases.

  • MaryAnn

    Marketing?

    Marketing costs are not generally reported as part of production budgets. And those costs are generally assumed, for a studio film, to be anywhere from 50 to 100% of the production budget. (So *Gran Torino* could have cost anywhere from $16 million to $33 million — or more — to market.)

    Then again, are they obligated to publicize accurate budget numbers? Wondering if one might claim a high (or low) number to enhance or otherwise position the perception of a film.

    No to the first, absolutely to the second. Many industry watchers assume that the numbers are not always entirely accurate, though I think the general tendency is for a studio to downplay a big budget (*Watchmen* probably cost more than the $150 million that’s been widely reported, for instance) than to say a movie cost more to produce than it did. Because the smaller you can make a budget look in the public realm, the better you make its box office performance look. *Gran Torino* would look like an even bigger hit if the studio put about that it cost only $20 million to make, for instance. But there’s only so much you can fudge the numbers before they sound ridiculous.

  • muyb33

    Thankyou for posting this review. I cannot believe people are actually sitting through this film, let alone enjoying it. I am completely baffled.

  • michael

    You’re right MaryAnn.I found this film cartoonishly mediocre, full of clichés. Soooo camp.I think the film relies on people’s attachment to Eastwood as an old movie icon. What would they have said if the star had been Chuck Norris ? The film would have gone unnoticed.

  • Robert

    What would they have said if the star had been Chuck Norris ?

    That after 40 or so years Norris hasn’t lost a thing – he couldn’t act then and he still can’t.

    He probably doesn’t sing any worse than Eastwood though.

  • Juha Hyrsky

    Sorry I just hadn’t got the time to read all the reviews above but not too many of them seem to notice the self-irony of the film. And surely it was an American film, it was an Eastwood film and it was a film made by and about a guy who doesn’t change his ways. But he learns. And those two things can go together.

    I loved this film. I really did. It is a fantastically moving and entertaining film and I have been brought up watching Bergman, Tarkovski and von Trier so I wouldn’t say I’m ignorant of different levels and dimensions in making films.

  • Joel

    This movie sucked.

    It was like a Life Stories: Families in Crisis, only longer, with crappier acting and direction.

    I’m still angry about this one, even months later.

  • Neil

    Pretty good film, though not great. Thought it was more about the contrasting attitudes of different generations than what this reviewer referred to. Its very easy to dismiss sections of the older demographic as racist and unpleasant but here Eastwood is attempting to understand, not condone or dismiss.

    Walt’s older generation put a lot of emphasis on how you carry yourself, that a man should be a man and that you are defined by your actions. Whereas the younger generation put more emphasis on material goods (designer clothes, cars etc) and that a person is defined by how well they are able to communicate with others.

    Walt saw himself in Thao in a way that he didn’t with his own kids, it was nothing to do with race or changing his ways, he simply made a friend.

  • Mike T.

    Powerful movie. Acting? How bout reality? Felt real to me…..I know lots of people that act just like that. If anything, the Irish construction worker was a worse actor. I agree with the N word comment way above. It’s just a word and there is no way Walt wold not have used this word for real.

  • Katie

    I disagree with this movie. Why? Because I find it that Hmong people have a difference way of doing their traditonal and not how it’s being shown in the movie. How our traditional compares to the movie, is not the exact way of we the hmong does it. I don’t know why, but it just made some of the people think more that we’re gooks who kills chickens, pigs, dogs, or even other animals like how the movie showed it. But really it’s not.

  • Thera Pitts

    Oddly enough, I did find his racism cute.

  • willrob

    I think one thing the movie clearly does is show the changing dynamics of American society. There was a time when almost all auto workers in Detroit were war veterans, white european immigrants, or black transplants from the south. The white workers lived in clean middle class well kept neighborhoods like the one protrayed. Blacks in typical segregated communities (come on you didnt actually think yankee towns were any different from the south) One of the best scenes was Walt commented on what his deceased nieghbor (obviously white, vet type, retired auto guy) would think of his house if he could see it. A great scene representing the change of on the Motor city and its people. Death of the neighbor/s and death of the auto industry is what changed Walts world.

  • ciggy

    I have just turned off this movie because I couldn’t take any more – one of the worst I’ve seen in ages – oh how the mighty have fallen, Clint.
    All discussion of the relevant social issues are irrelevant because from the first info dump conversation at the funeral this is a clumsy, unsubtle, badly made movie.
    I hated it (what I saw of it – gave up when he started being ‘funny’ with the young woman in the basement after fixing the dryer – oh please).
    Clint has lost all sense of judgement – how sad.

  • lawrence davis

    Pap for the brain dead. I can’t believe that Eastwood had anything to do with the casting of these hopelessly inept “Nam” actors. Clint isn’t much better in this himself, with the patented, clenched teeth “Well, do you punk” shtick from way back when. Thank God I avoided this on the big screen and merely rented the DVD. A complete insult to the memory of Archie Bunker, who inspired a not-always-off-base bumper sticker entitled “In your heart, you know he’s right”. Clint built a straw man here, when there has long since been no need to knock another one down. Kudos, Mary Anne!

  • Robert P

    A complete insult to the memory of Archie Bunker, who inspired a not-always-off-base bumper sticker entitled “In your heart, you know he’s right”.

    Really? I felt he was a more real-world embodiment of Archie. And like Archie when push came to shove, he was actually willing to relate to them damn (fill in minority) as people.

    By the way, Archie Bunker isn’t dead, only Edith.

  • Pedro

    There are few things in film I reviled as much as the first half-hour of this movie.

    It didn’t get a whole lot better afterwards, either.

  • Scott

    I’ve never thought I’ll reply about something like this, but people sure take this stuff seriously don’t they? I thought the movies was okay. Was it perfect? I’ve course not. But, it’s just a movie folks. Nothing more.

  • Robert P

    …people sure take this stuff seriously don’t they?…But, it’s just a movie folks. Nothing more.

    It seems MAJ and others have something of a vested interest in people getting engaged in this kind of thing. If they didn’t she and others wouldn’t have much support base for their pursuit/hobby/obsession/whatever she thinks of it as.

    In the irony department I either missed or didn’t previously feel motivated to comment on rich b opining

    one more thing – get yourself a proofreader.

    Someone may have commented on this already, it’s my understanding MAJ is a professional copy editor. I’m not aware that she’s ever laid claim to being infallible. With the massive output she seems to produce (this website, blogs, whatever other wordsmith-oriented gigs she has going on) it seems amazing she’s as accurate as she is. I often disagree with her perspective but I wouldn’t hesitate to hire her for her editing skills.

  • http://law.ufl.edu Frank from UF

    Are you the Official MAJ Apologist? I want that job.

  • Robert P

    Are you the Official MAJ Apologist? I want that job.

    No you don’t, the dental plan sucks.

    Sometimes I just feel motivated to comment on stupidity when I encounter it.

    Wondering where rich b saw this serious man and how he determined this man hates anger issues. And is this man the one who broke rich b’s shift key?

  • http://www.facefinance.com Avery

    It seems MAJ and others have something of a vested interest in people getting engaged in this kind of thing. If they didn’t she and others wouldn’t have much support base for their pursuit/hobby/obsession/whatever she thinks of it as.

  • http://www.facefinance.com Jacky

    make a better one reviewer

  • Victor Plenty

    Now that’s a form of spam I’d not seen before. Is this really new, or am I just behind the curve? I wonder whether it’s automated, or if there are actual humans doing the dirty work.

    There’s a job that would suck, on top of sending your soul straight to hell if there were any such place.

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    Notice how the names link to the same website, Victor. Still, it’s awful crafty… especially that first one. But you’ll notice the “make a better one reviewer” bit is repeated on this very page! Fascinating. :)

  • Grinebiter

    The traditional values of Asian immigrants are more in line with those of conservatives, who hold the strongest anti-immigrant views, than with those of the liberals who typically defend immigrants.

    That is very much true also where I live, in Europe. A few immigrants close their eyes to the xenophobia to vote with the right-wing populists for other reasons, such as the Vietnamese entrepreneur type whose big issue is low taxes, but on the whole they vote with the liberals who don’t want to throw them out or blame them for everything. One might say that the right-wing populists have blown it with what should be their natural demographic, except that they could not do otherwise; the xenophobia is arguably their core value, so that other aspects of their platform are just stuff they make up to look more like a proper party.

    so that when you do offend somebody it was on purpose.

    That was one of the ancient definitions of a Gentleman: one who never gives offence except on purpose. I dare say that would mean that the final giving of offence becomes more effective……

    (haven’t seen the film, just like conversations…..)

  • Victor Plenty

    Newbs, both spam comments are copied and pasted from earlier comments in this thread. And yes, I did notice that they both link to the same site. :)

  • Charlie

    You get it completely wrong if you think this movie is supposed to be about tolerance, love and understanding. It has nothing to do with a racist suddenly becoming an enlighted and politically correct individual overnight. Even at the end, Hell would freeze over before Walt would sit in a circle and sing Kum Ba Yah.

    Rather, it is a great parable about personal redemption. Walt racism doesn’t fundamentally change – the thugs are zipperheads to the very end. He only grudgingly comes to accept the Hmong he knows as ‘good gooks’. But in the end, through Sue and especially Thao, he see the opportunity to redeem himself for a guilt he he has been carrying for more than 50 years, and to give a new generation of asians a chance for life that he took from one young asian boy in 1952. That is why he pinned his Silver Star on Thao’s chest. He reclaims his essential, although still flawed, humanity.

    I suspect this movie might resonate more with a viewer the older you get, the more regrets you pack in your life’s satchel, and the more you come to realise that the world doesn’t fit into neat boxes of good and evil. As someone closer to the grave than the cradle, it certainly spoke to me.

  • Freddy

    There certainly are a lot of Walt’s family, keen to express their views and promote his personality flaws, with their learned comments and in so doing reflect just how much “better” people they are.

    America wake up – 2010 – drugs have swept through your society and wrecked havoc. Debt is the consequence. Buying cheap Chinese goods only keeps the debt collector away for a short time.

    The shallowness of the huge majority of the comments above, is just so sad. What was Walt’s surname ? The rest of the World needs America to be strong great and good, as it was in the past. This is a film with just so many levels.

    Sadly the 4th generation Kowalskis don’t seem to want to get most of them. 2nd generations knew how the 1st generation paid and what must not be allowed.

    It certainly has flaws but it is the best movie I have seen in years. I think the last 30 films, I have seen, I would file under “pretentious garbage”, giving a rating of less than 1 out of 10 and that would be regardless of genre.

  • http://toniokruger.blogspot.com Tonio Kruger

    Ultimately the priest is at least as evil as the gang thugs.

    SPOILERS for those few who haven’t seen Gran Torino:

    You mean the priest also beat up an Asian teenager, raped his sister and shot up his family’s house? And then went on to do worse?

    I guess I missed those scenes.

    MaryAnn, isn’t this movie just a race swap re-make of The Karate Kid?

    Yes, in a way, it is. It’s also seems a reversal of all those old 60s and 70s stories in which the young Caucasian guy (or girl, in the case of the 60s comic book version of Wonder Woman) learns all about self-defense from an elderly Asian man. (Call it the Remo Williams syndrome, if you prefer.)

    That said, it’s not surprising that this movie was more popular with conservative-leaning people like my mother–who is incidentally a Polish-American who grew up in the type of blue-collar neighborhood this movie was set in–than with the more liberal people who post here. The movie was a bit on the simplistic side and it’s tempting to see this as the conservative answer to Crash. (After all, Crash–save for a few scenes–tended to take the same shamelessly obvious approach to its issues as well.)

    I’m not going to pretend that I liked this movie as much as Unforgiven or The Outlaw Josey Wales–indeed, I would be very surprised if I even remembered that movie all that much ten year from now.

    Plus there were quite a few scenes I didn’t really care for. (It wasn’t enough that Sue got attacked and beat up, she also had to get raped? Granted, gang members aren’t known for their chivalry but still…) Nor does it help that this same plot would have seemed a bit more daring twenty or thirty years ago.

    And yet I was surprised enough by certain plot turns that I find it hard to hate it as much as MaryAnn did. Plus the fact that my Polish-American mother had no problems with this movie despite the number of times its script used the word “polack”–a word she has heard directed at herself in anger more than a few times in her life–must mean it has something going for it.

    YMMV, of course.

  • Robert P

    Tonio Kruger commented thusly:

    You mean the priest also beat up an Asian teenager, raped his sister and shot up his family’s house? And then went on to do worse?

    I mean the priest who’s the representative of an ancient movement dedicated to separating mankind from reason by any means necessary. A movement and various splinters, cousins, predecessors and indirectly related kin-in-mysticism responsible for a long history of stultification of humanity, of the most vile oppression and atrocities all in the name of enforcing adherence to an amorphous, irrational mythology.

    That’s the priest I mean pal. He’s more accurately viewed as the intellectual mentor of the violent, mindless thugs – who were doing what? Trying to coerce Tao’s allegiance to their clan.

    Walt correctly viewed the priest with contempt and disgust. I’m sorry they had him engage in a degree of capitulation but this clearly represents a flaw in Eastwood’s own philosophy. Someone dedicated to The Legend Of The Zombie Jew Carpenter Who Is His Own Father is no one worthy of seeking guidance from.

    A movement which, by the way, the United States has in truth NOT adherence to this mythology at its core as those infected with this ancient intellectual plague would have you believe, but represents the distancing of mankind from it. Under God my ass.

  • http://toniokruger.blogspot.com Tonio Kruger

    The priest was not forcing Walt to join the Church at the point of a gun. He was not threatening his family if he refused to go to Mass or Confession and while he may not have been the most perfect of human beings, he did nothing within the motion picture that gave me any reason to view him with contempt.

    If you wish to give me a reason to change my mind on this subject, you’d best give me a better reason than “but I really really really really hate the Catholics.”

  • Robert P

    The priest was not forcing Walt to join the Church at the point of a gun.

    No, fortunately in this day and age in America religious doctrine has no force of law, thanks to those who made the monumental leap of keeping religion out of the public realm, and despite the wishes of those who celebrate mysticism and have proven over and over they would like nothing better than to hijack public policy and turn America into a theocracy – at which point it would cease to be America.

    The priest nontheless represents all the evil of religion, is still operating as an agent of a fundamentally evil philosophy, no matter how pleasant his demeanor, or even his own failure to grasp what he represents. Oh Walt, “god” wants you to do or feel this, that or whatever – of course the bottom line we promote is if you don’t get with the program and accept this litany of irrational horseshit you face eternal torture – but really, “god” luuuuuvs yewwww.

    :-)

    No, he wasn’t using a gun, he was hoping to prey on breaches in Walt’s philosophical framework. I personally would tell such a priest to get lost, period or suffer my boot up his ass. Or at least a restraining order. Seriously.

    It pisses me off every time we see a religious figure brought in to represent “goodness”, despite the trail of horrors they’ve left behind them.

    he did nothing within the motion picture that gave me any reason to view him with contempt

    Because you don’t grasp what he represents. In one concrete sense he wanted to prevent violence – ironic given the unambiguous violence inherent in their rationale for belief, belief which he wants Walt to embrace.

    And fact is, violence was utterly called for. At some point, even a young person evolves into a predatory monster who can’t be reached by reason or compassion and needs to be viewed as such by those they would prey upon. There’s a reason police are authorized to use lethal force (my views on the far too frequent abuse of their state powers aside). Far too many examples of repeat, career offenders who have been immune to all efforts to reach them from the time they were young.

    If you wish to give me a reason to change my mind on this subject, you’d best give me a better reason than “but I really really really really hate the Catholics.”

    I’ve given you reasons, however if you buy into religious doctrine – Catholicism? – part of the insidiousness of it is that your capacity to denounce it is handicapped. You’ve already accepted the asinine precept that there are things outside man’s capacity for comprehension (i.e. “faith” – so-called belief absent evidence – utterly contradictory in itself) and therefor reason & logic is subordinated to non-reason, non-logic in “accepting god”. How those who tell you this have reached this conclusion being anyone’s guess.

    Actually the reason being they’re part of a long history of transmission of this mind-handicapping philosophical pathogen passed on by various indoctrination, coercion & self-perpetuating social pressure – among others the socially sanctioned child abuse of going to church. Come into our loving arms so we can fuck up the mind of your child as yours was before they have a chance to defend themselves.

    I really really hate Catholicism not because I think the uniforms are lame, but for the same reason I really really hate Nazism or Islam – that religion of peace whose proponents (who we keep being told aren’t “true” believers) keep blowing things up, subjugating women, etc.

  • http://toniokruger.blogspot.com Tonio Kruger

    I’m not ignorant of the darker side of Catholic history and I’m not ignorant of the many scandals that have taken place in the Church as of late. I have publicly disagreed with the Vatican’s attitude toward predatory priests on my own blog and have also publicly disagreed with the Church on such issues as gay marriage.

    That said, I see little cause in attacking a fictional priest simply because some people here dislike what he represents any more than it would be okay to attack, say, a fictional rabbi because one has issues with Judaism. If I should condemn a fictional character, it should be because of something he or she actually says or does, not because he or she reminds me of somebody else who has done evil.

    I’ll admit part of this is due to bias. I’m a Catholic, my mother was a former Catholic, most of my relatives are Catholics and quite a few of my friends are Catholics. I’m not going to pretend all the Catholics I’ve known have been particularly saintly but I have yet to observe many evils in them that are not also present in non-Catholics. And I’ve known quite a few evil people who either had no affiliation with the Church or deliberately rejected the Church and its teachings. (And I’m not saying the latter group was evil because they rejected the Church. I’m saying that they went on to do evil after they rejected the Church.)

    If you wish to view this as a sign that I’ve drunken the Vatican Kool-aid and given myself totally over to Catholic propaganda–well, you don’t know me very well.

    And I don’t know you.

    And it’s obvious we’re always going to disagree on this matter.

    So let’s agree to disagree.

    Otherwise, I have nothing further to say to you.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 StumbleUpon 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×