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