Early Movie Review: Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino – Young Punks Vs. Old Punk

gran torino Early Movie Review: Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino – Young Punks Vs. Old Punk

I was excited to watch Keanu in a role that only he can play so well in The Day the Earth Stood Still. But with poor reviews pouring in from friends and critics, I was hesitant. I’ve heard about Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino movie and saw that it was out in select theatres in New York and Los Angeles, so I had to go there and check it out. I just couldn’t miss a chance to see Clint Eastwood harass punk kids.

We went in a group along with Mongoose, and decided to check the movie out at the Arclight Theatre in Hollywood, the one with a big polygonal dome. Let me just say that I’ve never been to such an awesome theatre like this before. It’s got two bars, a restaurant, and a gift shop. The menu was pricey, but we were already here, so we decided to dine in. I ordered a Heineken and quesadilla while my friends ordered a nice warm moist chocolate brownie. It’s a weird mix, but we were holding off for Pink’s hot dogs, a tradition every time we head down Hollywood.

When we ordered the tickets, it was around $15. The high price was probably for the cool things that the Arclight featured. One of their coolest features is the ability to have assigned seating. That means that as long as you get your tickets, you won’t have to wait in line to find good seating. But that didn’t stop some weird looking stranger from taking our seats, so we just moved over a couple of seats.

The Movie

Gran Torino is Clint’s second movie he directed this year, after Changeling, with Angelina Jolie. In the movie, Clint plays Walt Kowalski, a bitter old veteran from the Korean War. His wife recently died, and at the gathering after the funeral, his family tries to get closer to him, only to be treated like a begging teen at a gas station.

Walt is very blunt and calls things as they are. He’s the proud American. He loves Ford, also worked there for many years, and hates Japanese cars, which he’s disappointed about because his son drives one. If his family doesn’t get any love from him, just imagine how he treats his neighbors, a Hmong (pronounced mong) family that lives next door.

The characters are very stereotypical and clichéd. You have the nerdy Asian kid, the Mexican cholos in a lowrider, Asian gangs in a Civic all modded up, and blacks trying to cause trouble and being horn dogs.

Thao, the son of the Hmong family, is the awkward kid trying to figure out what he wants with his life. His cousin tries to recruit him in his gang after bailing him out from a band of cholos. For his initiation in his cousin’s gang, he has to steal the Gran Torino that belongs to Walt. Walt hears a noise in his garage and scares Thao away with his shotgun, but wasn’t able to find out it was Thao until later.

It seems like the family is always getting into trouble. Sue, Thao’s older sister, along with her boyfriend, a white guy who thinks he’s black, walks into a ghetto area and is harassed by a bunch of horny blacks hungry for some Asian meat. She doesn’t help her cause by making fun of them. Walt, who happens to be nearby, comes in to save Sue when they’re about to sexually abuse her. Walt freaks the blacks out by pointing his fingers at them like a gun. It’s moments like these that just make you root for the old guy.

Clint’s performance is fun and scary at the same time. This is one old man you don’t want to mess with. He cusses and gives out racial slurs like nothing. He’s able to get away from this because he’s a bitter old man.

The other casts aren’t that great, but I’m ok with that. Thao and Sue give a raw performance and it gives the movie that authenticity. Sometimes it works great for the film, but for scenes that require a lot of drama, it makes you roll your eyes. Sue was able to play it off though. You would have Walt calling her racial names, but she plays along with it. Clint is the only few actors that can pull racial slurs off with comedic effect. But I do know that there will be some sensitive people out there who might take offence. I can’t blame them.

This is a movie I really enjoyed. It’s not for the easily offended, because Clint’s character attacks races of all types. It’s got a good message about a boy with an unlikely role model whom learns to care for each other. Clint learns to love his neighbors, and Thao learns to become a real man. Yep, Clint’s still got it.

Grade: A-

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