Gran Torino Movie Review

Do you miss Archie Bunker? Are you curious to find out how Carroll O'Connor's stone-cold bigot would have reacted to our current, culturally diverse society? And did you ever dream of seeing racist old Archie packing heat as he spewed bile all over the "spooks," "gooks," and other non-Caucasians who were unlucky enough to cross his path? Then Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino is the movie for you.

Walt Kowalski (Eastwood) served his time in the military, paid his dues at the auto plant -- American cars only, of course -- and wants to spend his days as a widower in peace. He is disgusted by his ignorant, oafish sons and their selfish children -- the ugliest characters you'll see on screen this year. But his disdain isn't limited to kin. Walt also hates the "eggroll," "fish-head" "Charlie Chans" who've moved into his blue-collar Detroit suburb.

Walt's worst nightmare comes true one evening when Thao (Bee Vang), a painfully shy Hmong teenager, tries to boost the old man's vintage Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation. Walt catches Thao in the act, bringing shame to the family. To pay off the debt, Thao begins shadowing Walt so he can learn to grow up and be a man (translation: hate people with a passion).

This odd-couple pairing has powered many a comedy, but the laughs in Torino are unintentional. Eastwood plays his material very seriously, and I believe he thinks we'll be moved as Thao accepts more responsibility and Walt grows less intolerant. But the storytelling is plodding and ham-fisted, and Torino ends up spinning its wheels.

Eastwood does do something unique in Gran Torino -- he surrounds himself with rank amateurs, from "intimidating" gangbangers straight out of central casting to his neighbors who, in time, will learn to respect the curmudgeon living next door. Vang, in particular, is shockingly blasé and uncomfortable delivering lines. Character actor John Carroll Lynch, meanwhile, is miscast as Walt's racist, Italian barber. And I felt sorry for apple-cheeked Christopher Carley, who plays an optimistic parish priest. The character serves two purposes. Eastwood enjoys having Walt talk down to whippersnapper cast members, and the idea of challenging religion has become a constant through the director's recent pictures.

But Nick Schenk has penned a graceless and insensitive script littered with clunkers that are meant to pass as life lessons handed down from one generation to the next. "Sounds like you know more about death than you do living," Carley's priest utters to Walt over drinks at the local watering hole (where, coincidentally, the men gather during the day to share racist jokes). And in return, Clint squints. It's pretty much his lone response through much of Torino, until the credits, when he sings the film's theme song. That's when you'll wince.

Where are the American-made tool belts?

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : Jenette Kahn, ,

Starring : , Christopher Carley, Bee Vang, Ahney Her,


Gran Torino Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, 2008


More Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood: "Eli Wallach Was A Wonderful Guy and Actor"

Clint Eastwood has led the tributes to the late actor Eli Wallach - his co-star in the classic 1966 movie The Good, the Bad and...

'Think Like A Man Too' Set To Overtake '22 Jump Street' In Weekend Box Office?

Think Like A Man Too looks set to knock 22 Jump Street off the top of the US Weekend Box Office. The comedy, starring Kevin...

'Jersey Boys' Continues Flow From Stage to Screen

Movie producers are again turning to Broadway for source material for blockbusters, thanks to the mega-success of film adaptations like Mamma Mia and Les Miserables....

Clint Eastwood Opens Up On His Cameo in Jersey Boys

Clint Eastwood wasn’t perhaps the first name on everybodys' lips when the Jersey Boys movie adaptation was in its early stages, but the vetern actor-turned-director...


Jersey Boys Movie Review

Music-lover Clint Eastwood adapts the long-running stage musical for the big screen with mixed results: it recounts a terrific true story but has an uneven...

Eastwood's 'Jersey Boys' Is Fun But Fails To Upstage Broadway

On the eve of the premiere of Clint Eastwood's movie adaptation of the Broadway hot musical, Jersey Boys, we thought we'd do a little snooping...

Clint Eastwood Doesn't Care Much For The Music of The Four Seasons

Despite having taken 'The Jersey Boys' from Broadway to the big screen, Clint Eastwood has admitted that he doesn’t really enjoy the music of Frankie...

Clint Eastwood Almost Hits The Right Notes with ‘Jersey Boys’. Almost.

Jersey Boys, Clint Eastwood’s big screen version of the Tony Award winning musical, is among the new cinematic releases this weekend and the critics appear...