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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Gran Torino - A Review

I could say that this was a nice movie about a lovely old man overcoming his Xenophobia and fear of Asian cooking but then I would be lying! This is in fact a raw film about a grumpy old sod whose hate for everybody doesn’t exclude his own family.
I have rarely seen a film jam packed with so many racial slurs and multiple cuss words and yet it leaves you thinking, Oh well, wasn’t that a lovely film? Except, it wasn’t!
Walt Kowalski is the hard nosed Korean War veteran who has watched his neighborhood go from an all American Brady bunch style street to a veritable china town. His own grown up kids are indifferent towards him and his grand kids are only interested in what they can get out of his eventual carking it.
His wife has beat him to the dirt pile and at the wake (funeral party) there is a classic scene with his grand daughter asking what his plans are for his couch because she could do with one in her dorm room!
Next door there lies another world, a Chinese Mong family of 3 women and one teenage boy called Tao who needs some serious manning up. After Tao’s (or Toad to Walt) failed attempt at stealing Walt’s Gran Torino to prove his manliness to his gangster cousins, it comes down to Walt to take this young lad under his wrinkled wings and teach him how to do macho things like dig holes and scrape paint off walls.
Meanwhile Walt learns that he has more in common with these “foreigners” than he does with his own depressing family and he finds himself slap bang in the middle of the road to redemption amidst a whole barrage of some of the best examples of political incorrectness I’ve heard for a long time.
Of course there’s more to it than a simple father and surrogate son relationship. The gangster cousins are out to cause more trouble but they have to get through Walt first.
This film has all the classic nuances of an old western, even if it is set next door. Other possible titles for Gran Torino could be Urban Cowboy, Grumpy Old Man or a Fist Full of Chicken Dumplings.
If this is truly Eastwood’s swan song, which I’ve heard it isn’t, then he truly does go out with a bang! But if you’re thrill in film going is in special effects, things blowing up for no reason and computer generated things that look completely fake then Gran Torino will disappoint at every turn. Even the sound quality is more stereo than surround… its strength is in the drama and Clint’s classic one liners. So in a star rating of 10 for excitement and spectacular eye gouging fun I would give the Torino a massive 4, simply because I could do my knitting and still not miss a stitch. But for good dramatic drama it’s probably worthy of a 6.

Just be prepared to cover your ears if you shock easily.

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