One Million Reasons to Hate This Movie

I’m not copping out, I just can’t talk about Gran Torino without shouting and ticking off points on my fingers.

200px-gran_torino_poster1I will now repeat what I have stomped around shouting in the days since I watched Gran Torino:

1. Clint Eastwood is not a good director. Maybe he was once, but he is no longer choosing good scripts, and this script was utterly awful. He was also the only good actor in the film but who can blame the other actors? You should hear the lines they were fed.

2. This movie is NOT Dirty Harry 2, so wipe that idea from your head. No one is “badass,” despite what the idiotic guys in the row in front of me kept saying to each other, unless you think old racist misanthropes who basically strive to save all Asian folks from themselves (the screenwriters – Nick Schenk and Dave Johanssen – clearly really believes that, although Walt (Eastwood’s) methods are a little screwy, any and all non-whites would benefit from a lesson or two).

3. If you don’t believe the above parenthetical statement, can I add that the amount of laughter that the white, middle-aged audience indulged in, following every racist comment out of Walt’s mouth, was disturbing. Raucous, half-guilty, half-justified laughter. I kept expecting the lady next to me to actually come out and say to her husband, “Oh, Keith! Those sound like the horrible names you call our dry cleaner in private! Remember the good old days when we could just go around calling people Chinamen whenever we wanted??” Instead, she just chortled and elbowed him, and he nodded knowingly, and I died a little inside.

4. Sookie Stackhouse kissed Vampire Bill on the mouth IRL!! And SRK presented an award!!! (Wait, those are from my “One Million Reasons to Enjoy the Golden Globes Last Weekend” list, sorry.)

5. There is no subtlety in this film. I’m surprised Paul Haggis wasn’t involved somehow (as he was with Letters from Iwo Jima, Flags of Our Fathers, and Million Dollar Baby. I swear I knew about none of these until I went to go hyperlink his name to IMDB. It’s incredible how everything fits!). The ungrateful teenage granddaughter is forever ungrateful and bratty. The hardworking Asian is forever hardworking. The young priest is always smug. No one budges a hair from their predetermined cliche of a character, which, in turn leaves you with only a plot that is so painfully predictable (guess who gets the Gran Torino? Is it the bratty teenage granddaughter?? Or is it the Asian kid next door who he has come to regard fondly only after showing him how real men act) (i.e. like assholes?))

6. Because Clint Eastwood is involved, some sort of Oscar nomination will doubtless go to this film, as the Golden Globes demonstrated by nominating the jaunty little tune that plays during the credits as Best Original Song. Yeah, that song’s called “Gran Torino,” and features Eastwood himself rasping out the words “Gran Torino” a bunch, while you watch the Gran Torino driving along the street. lakdjaskdjsalkdjlsakdjlksdjla!!!!!!

7. Obvious Christ-figure overtones make me sick. Especially when it’s not even an overtone, it’s just the tone. Directors! Symbolism isn’t really as powerful when you COME OUT AND SAY WHAT THE SYMBOL IS.

8. I can’t believe movies like these are still made and praised as if people are honestly unaware that it’s been made 100 times before.

9. The only reason it even gets a second star is that the plot moves along at a nice pace.

10. Also Eastwood is a good actor, even in this film. Even I can’t deny that.

11. It appears that I am no longer actually making a list of terrible things about this film, so I’m not sure why I’m still numbering thoughts.

12. I think maybe I just don’t want to end this review because this is the kind of movie that, when you call it stupid, every person who enjoyed it will burst into flames and call you all sorts of names. I guess because they think you’re calling them dumb? I never understood that. Like, my mom HATES Daniel Neiman. I can’t figure out why. I mean, I guess smugness is a problem. But it’s hard to avoid that when you see a TON of movies, so many that it really takes a unique zinger to stand out from the crowd, and after while you get so bitter that you have to sit through 90% recycled material that you start seething with anger during movies that actually only deserve an eye roll. After awhile, you are in serious danger of letting your largely unwarranted hatred turn you into, holy crap, CLINT EASTWOOD IN GRAN TORINO, which of course means that you’ll move in next door to Paul Haggis, hating him at first as you hate all clumsy, hackneyed filmmakers. Eventually you find some common ground (Surprise! He’s a Rodgers & Hammerstein fan too!!!) and before you know it, you’re showing Paul how to be more like you and less like Paul, and in the end you’ve done everyone a favor.

13. I have no idea where I’m going with this. If the onslaught of amazing movies that I just know is coming (to herald the coming of the Academy Awards) takes any longer to get to Richmond, this kind of thing might continue to happen. I make no promises. Save me, Revolutionary Road!

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Susan Howson

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  1. Wait. He just says “Gran Torino” over and over again. Is he “rapping”?

  2. No he’s singing. I mean there are verses, etc. I was busy containing my wrath.

  3. Yeah this looked pretty horrible. I think Clint Eastwood needs to move to Sci-Fi. Can you imagine a deep Space Caper (not the food, although that is an interesting thought in itself) with Clint Eastwood as the hero , maybe trying to save Cyndi Lauper from an evil 8 armed Amitabh Bachchan? The film would be an epic musical, and would simply be called “Genius”.

  4. Yes, I can imagine that.

  5. oldhick on said:

    Ha! Too funny. We went with a group of about 15 people to see this movie and they are all pretty picky about their cinema…

    All of us thought that this was the best movie of the year. I could argue each point with you but it would be ridiculous.

    1. You say he was a good director but not anymore but don’t give any real reasons so it’s difficult to respond to such an unsupported claim.

    2. I’m not sure why you would think it’s Dirty Harry 2… It’s the story of a racist old man and the many layers and complexity that make him who he is and his quest for redemption.

    3. So you can handle the fact the subject matter involved race. That’s a shame. We live in a complex world where race will continue to be a factor and if we can look at it honestly like this movie does, maybe just maybe we can find out that we have much in common and we can celebrate our differences.

    4. More reasons to ignore your critique of this film.

    5. Maybe you don’t understand what the word subtle means nor can you identify a nuanced portrayal of a character… But ultimately everyone’s taste is different. Our disagreement on this point can evolve to nothing more than “he said, she said”. I think this movie is nothing BUT subtle. The performance of the priest was brilliant and the grand daughter managed to tie the two worlds together and breathe a little humor into a complex relationship.

    6. I hope he does win the Oscar as this undeniably one of his finer works.

    7. Here we agree. Since that only involved 5 minutes of the film it didn’t bother me too much, but I won’t disagree with you on that element. I sat in the theater thinking the exact same thing. “Really? Did you have to go there?”

    8. I guess you don’t understand that there are only a few stories that can be told. At some point you must find compelling ways to re-tell old stories and to bring to life new cultures, new characters and provide vehicles for honest acting. I’m surprised you can find any unique stories. I haven’t seen one in years.

    9. Ok.

    10. Agreed.

    11. I have no names to call you. I’m not in flames. I simply disagree with you. If you like main stream hollywood films (and it appears from your critique that you must) then certainly this flick isn’t for you.

  6. Let’s agree to disagree! (But let’s disagree to agree that anything Clint Eastwood does could ever, ever be called anything but completely and utterly “mainstream”).


  8. I’m trying to think of a pun other than “Bran Torino” because CE is old and I am ageist.

    I didn’t see Gran Torino. I did see his other movie, though. The first thing that popped into my head after watching “Changeling” the other day was that Clint Eastwood might not be a good director. I did like “Changeling” — the acting and the story were great and who doesn’t love Amy Ryan? — but despite having three editors involved it was about 40 minutes too long. I don’t know who to blame.

    I have a feeling that you will hate Revolutionary Road.

  9. Wait wait wait wait wait. Look I didn’t see the movie, and I haven’t even seen that many Clint Eastwood movies, so I can’t take sides here either way. And I don’t even give a crap if a movie is mainstream or not. But I do know this:

    1) Gran Torino was produced and distributed by Warner Brothers, which was the largest grossing film studio in the world last year.

    2) Last weekend Gran Torino made more money than any other movie in America.

    3) The only thing I watch on TV is football, and in between the truck ads and the beer ads for the last month, there were Gran Torino ads all over the place.

    4) Lastly, it’s not like the director and star is some underground unknown, here.

    I mean, does your definition of “mainstream hollywood film” differ from mine somehow?

  10. jason on said:

    justin – i agree, clearly this is more mainstream than a vast majority of films which are produced. hard to argue your points.

    susan – i’m really glad you posted this review as i agree, it’s was a really horrible film on many levels. i too couldn’t stand how everything was shoved in your face without any subtlety; sadly this is probably why so many mainstream movie goers connected with it. i will say, though, the poster is REALLY well done. great use of imagery and type. i’m a sucker for good design.

    i’m glad you enjoyed milk and was amused by your review of synecdoche, though i wish you had rated it. did you see seven pounds? surprisingly good.

  11. I’m so damn curious about Seven Pounds but I forget what I chose to see instead!! I will Netflix it!

    I wish I’d rated Synecdoche too, but I still can’t figure out how I feel about it. It’s like every time I try to think about it my brain is like “Look, stop. Just stop.”

  12. jason on said:

    definitely report back after you view 7 lbs! i give synecdoche a 4.5/5. so now at least we know were SOMEONE stands on it! cheers, Susan.

  13. oldhick on said:

    So I was wrong about using the phrase “main stream”, I can admit that. Apologies. I stand by the rest of my comment… I’ll take feed back on it! Thanks.

  14. Also, Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.

  15. I couldn’t make it past 44 minutes.

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