"Gran Torino" movie review

by Eric Melin on January 12, 2009

in Print Reviews

Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” plays like some sort of R-rated Hallmark made-for-TV movie where the lead character, a horribly racist Korean War veteran named Walt Kowalski, finally learns firsthand that people are people everywhere, no matter what their background, and that racism is bad. For Walt to learn this valuable lesson, it takes his wife’s death and his kids’ subsequent disappointing behavior to make him look at his Hmong neighbors differently. Well, that and the fact that they shower him with gifts after he takes on some young gang members that are after their son.

gran torino movie eastwood gunThe movie plays racism for laughs, but the joke wears thin because it never lets up. It is a symptom of his character. Walt doesn’t express his affection for Thao (Bee Vang) and his sister Sue (Ahney Her), but it’s obvious after some awkward and completely unbelievable sequences that he cares about them. One major problem with “Gran Torino” is that the amateur actors look and feel just like that– amateur actors. Especially with Eastwood playing a growly caricature of the charatcers he’s played in other films a million times before, it’s almost as if the others are in a different movie.

Then there’s the end. I can’t talk about it without giving it away, but let’s just say that the imagery is so obvious that it’s laughable. I understand that Eastwood meant well, and it is interesting to fill up a tried-and-true movie formula with this much frank racism in order to make it different, but “Gran Torino” is just a well-intentioned mess.

Our friend Whitney Mathews had this to say in her capsule review at WhitneyMathews.com:

Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood’s latest attempt at socially-relevant drama falls flat on its ass. Gran Torino is so bad, I found myself wondering “is this supposed to be a comedy? Cuz I’m LOLing at things that aren’t supposed to be funny…” The whole first part of the movie is about Eastwood being an cranky, racist widower with a family that would love to dump him off in an assisted living facility.

Then he befriends a Hmong family that lives next door and things get really ridiculous. Or, as Pacman Jones would say, ridiculon. It’s like Boyz N the Hood, but in Detroit with white and Asian people. The movie’s attempts at touching, inspiring moments are ruined by bad acting.

For those of you who had to suffer through the 2001 production of Molly Whuppie at Shawnee Mission Northwest, I’d compare it to watching that musical four times in a row on a chair made of thorns. Don’t bother with this one. I bet Bride Wars is more entertaining.

FYI, Gran Stupido literally translates to Great Stupid in Italian. I knew I’d use that degree someday!

gran torino movie eastwood hmong…and here’s part of Alan Rapp‘s review at Transbuddha:

I could go into further detail about the other storylines involving a persistent priest (Christopher Carley) and Frank’s sons and grandchildren with whom he has nothing in common, but each are so predictable simply vaguely mentioning them is all that’s necessary. Truthfully, I’ve amazed I found the energy to even do that much.

Although it’s immensely enjoyable watching Eastwood chew and spit out scenery in this one-note role the rest of the film is marred with many problems including a cast of actors not playing on the same level (many of the Homang are acting for the first time), pedestrian camera work (this is suppossed to be an Eastwood film after all), and disappointing final act complete with shameless symbolism and overt sentimentality.

At its best Gran Torino is politically incorrect fun with Eastwood grunting and showing his contempt for everyone around him. At its worst it’s trite, heavy handed, and, most unforgivable of all, largely forgettable. I’d still give it a marginal recommendation for Eastwood’s performance, but the movie itself is a bit of a disappointment.

What did you think?

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kyle Kelley January 12, 2009 at 10:32 pm

The film is easily one of the best films in a long while. It reaches deep into the heart of America and rips the lifeless and heartless soul from our bodies. The tone and language of the movie is a real as any movie in the last decade. Movies have to use stereotypes if they are fiction or make their own stereotypes. If there is not a person who can relate to this movie any form then the point of the movie is missed. The part about how men talk to each other is funny, because its true and neophytes such as the young boy struggle to relate with such talk.

Get past the color and racial lines and one could substitute any race or culture into any side of the story and easily see an old man protecting his turf with suspicion of the unknown, a young man coming of age, children and grandchildren coveting a parents/grandparents possessions but never really caring for them, wannabe hoods and bullies not used to being bullied, and a young woman subjected to verbal sexual innuendo and sexual assault.

If the lack of politically correct dialogue makes you cringe then wake up to the real world were people work and play. Racism is not words, but actions and the actions in this movie are about doing what is right as opposed to what is wrong. Eastwood’s character is about sacrifice from a man with seemingly nothing left to lose except his own perceptions. The symbolic gesture of the Silver Star holds as much value as any in the story.

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2 Kyle Kelley January 12, 2009 at 10:32 pm

The film is easily one of the best films in a long while. It reaches deep into the heart of America and rips the lifeless and heartless soul from our bodies. The tone and language of the movie is a real as any movie in the last decade. Movies have to use stereotypes if they are fiction or make their own stereotypes. If there is not a person who can relate to this movie any form then the point of the movie is missed. The part about how men talk to each other is funny, because its true and neophytes such as the young boy struggle to relate with such talk.

Get past the color and racial lines and one could substitute any race or culture into any side of the story and easily see an old man protecting his turf with suspicion of the unknown, a young man coming of age, children and grandchildren coveting a parents/grandparents possessions but never really caring for them, wannabe hoods and bullies not used to being bullied, and a young woman subjected to verbal sexual innuendo and sexual assault.

If the lack of politically correct dialogue makes you cringe then wake up to the real world were people work and play. Racism is not words, but actions and the actions in this movie are about doing what is right as opposed to what is wrong. Eastwood’s character is about sacrifice from a man with seemingly nothing left to lose except his own perceptions. The symbolic gesture of the Silver Star holds as much value as any in the story.

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3 Eric Melin January 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Kyle- It’s not the lack of politically correct dialogue that made me cringe, it was the complete and utter overuse of it. It went past over-the-top and into ridiculous. The scene you mention in the barbershop was emblematic of the movie’s failure because not one moment of it seemed real. I agree with the message the movie sends, but it was about as ham-fisted as you can get in the delivery department. The “sacrifice” you mention was underlined with such an obvious image that it was almost as if Eastwood was admitting he had been messing with us the whole time.

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4 Eric Melin January 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Kyle- It’s not the lack of politically correct dialogue that made me cringe, it was the complete and utter overuse of it. It went past over-the-top and into ridiculous. The scene you mention in the barbershop was emblematic of the movie’s failure because not one moment of it seemed real. I agree with the message the movie sends, but it was about as ham-fisted as you can get in the delivery department. The “sacrifice” you mention was underlined with such an obvious image that it was almost as if Eastwood was admitting he had been messing with us the whole time.

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5 Kyle Kelley January 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I really think what Clint Eastwood’s character did at the end was the logical thing to do to resolve the dilemma. What are other people’s ideas for a better way to end the film? I suppose you could have had Clint’s character kill as many gang members as he could, but Clint’s character wanted a measure of redemption from his actions in the Korean War. Also killing just results in more killing as gang member families might seek revenge against not only Clint, but the Hmong family he wanted to protect.

For me, a movie doesn’t need to send the right moral message for me to like it. But I thought that Gran Torino was realistic. There will always be “bad” people. And there will always be “good” people who get corrupted by “bad” people. Clint’s character was just trying to make sure one “good” person didn’t get corrupted. And in the end, he did not resort to using violence. He sacrificed himself. And since he knew he was dying, it wasn’t a totally unbelievable act.

Too bad all the racist in our world didn’t have the ball to end there live’s just as Walt (Clint Eastwood) did in the end of the film. The world would be a better place.

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6 Kyle Kelley January 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I really think what Clint Eastwood’s character did at the end was the logical thing to do to resolve the dilemma. What are other people’s ideas for a better way to end the film? I suppose you could have had Clint’s character kill as many gang members as he could, but Clint’s character wanted a measure of redemption from his actions in the Korean War. Also killing just results in more killing as gang member families might seek revenge against not only Clint, but the Hmong family he wanted to protect.

For me, a movie doesn’t need to send the right moral message for me to like it. But I thought that Gran Torino was realistic. There will always be “bad” people. And there will always be “good” people who get corrupted by “bad” people. Clint’s character was just trying to make sure one “good” person didn’t get corrupted. And in the end, he did not resort to using violence. He sacrificed himself. And since he knew he was dying, it wasn’t a totally unbelievable act.

Too bad all the racist in our world didn’t have the ball to end there live’s just as Walt (Clint Eastwood) did in the end of the film. The world would be a better place.

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7 Troy January 13, 2009 at 9:21 pm

“Get off my lawn!”

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8 Troy January 13, 2009 at 9:21 pm

“Get off my lawn!”

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9 coffee January 16, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Clint Eastwood used his outward crankiness to come across as tough and yet also heroic at the same time, well done i’d say

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10 coffee January 16, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Clint Eastwood used his outward crankiness to come across as tough and yet also heroic at the same time, well done i’d say

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11 JammyTime January 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

I like Eastwood, though I had a hard time getting through the film for all the reasons in the original review. This thing was almost too embarrassing to watch. The movie would have been way better if all the voices were overtly over-dubbed or subtitled or something distracting. The bad acting and the corny script made it difficult to pay attention to the story – like going to a high school play where the chance of a theatrical disaster is looms as a result of the quality of the acting. While most of the characters were tolerable, that red headed minister kid made me cringe as much as the incessant name calling.

The whole time watching the movie I couldn’t help but dwell on the idea that Eastwood was trying to make a movie for my parents’ generation. I really don’t want to believe that an older audience is finding this movie hilarious and insightful. But I can imagine that this is the case. Ugh? I think I just threw up in my mouth.

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12 JammyTime January 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

I like Eastwood, though I had a hard time getting through the film for all the reasons in the original review. This thing was almost too embarrassing to watch. The movie would have been way better if all the voices were overtly over-dubbed or subtitled or something distracting. The bad acting and the corny script made it difficult to pay attention to the story – like going to a high school play where the chance of a theatrical disaster is looms as a result of the quality of the acting. While most of the characters were tolerable, that red headed minister kid made me cringe as much as the incessant name calling.

The whole time watching the movie I couldn’t help but dwell on the idea that Eastwood was trying to make a movie for my parents’ generation. I really don’t want to believe that an older audience is finding this movie hilarious and insightful. But I can imagine that this is the case. Ugh? I think I just threw up in my mouth.

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13 Eric Melin January 22, 2009 at 2:38 pm

JammyTime- Is your screen name a Frogs reference?

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14 Eric Melin January 22, 2009 at 2:38 pm

JammyTime- Is your screen name a Frogs reference?

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15 Cleveland Grown January 26, 2009 at 12:58 pm

The only thing that was bad about this movie was this lame review. This movie was “spot on” to reality. I grew up in these neighborhoods and still have old family that will not leave these neighborhoods. I’ve gotten into fights with bangers, after yelling at them to pick up McDonalds bags that I watched then drop in my grandmothers yard while she swept her steps. This is how life is. It shows how racism is brought on by being a product of ones environment. This movie preaches respect and hard work, something that is dying faster and faster in today’s society. Unless you have been there and lived there, you will never get it. I’m 39 and this movie showed the reality of a dying breed. This is a breed of people that cared about their neighborhoods and the quality of life of others, because at one time, people simply gave a shit about something. These neighborhoods will never come back. As for the swearing and racist undertones, take it for a grain salt. It is what it is. That’s how friends speak to each other in those neighborhoods. I’m a college grad and working professional, and all my friends from various ethnic backgrounds, still crack on each other this way. When it came down to it, we still had respect for those that cared about the neighborhood.

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16 Cleveland Grown January 26, 2009 at 12:58 pm

The only thing that was bad about this movie was this lame review. This movie was “spot on” to reality. I grew up in these neighborhoods and still have old family that will not leave these neighborhoods. I’ve gotten into fights with bangers, after yelling at them to pick up McDonalds bags that I watched then drop in my grandmothers yard while she swept her steps. This is how life is. It shows how racism is brought on by being a product of ones environment. This movie preaches respect and hard work, something that is dying faster and faster in today’s society. Unless you have been there and lived there, you will never get it. I’m 39 and this movie showed the reality of a dying breed. This is a breed of people that cared about their neighborhoods and the quality of life of others, because at one time, people simply gave a shit about something. These neighborhoods will never come back. As for the swearing and racist undertones, take it for a grain salt. It is what it is. That’s how friends speak to each other in those neighborhoods. I’m a college grad and working professional, and all my friends from various ethnic backgrounds, still crack on each other this way. When it came down to it, we still had respect for those that cared about the neighborhood.

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17 Jeff Mac January 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm

I think the movie was powerful and sent a gripping message about life, death and learning. I think movie critics bashing the film have been watching too many movies about “Gay Cowboys eating pudding”. Thanks to Eric Cartman for that quote. Flor those who live in fantasy land, Walt Kowalski exists in women and men all over the US. Maybe not to the extreme of the character but it does exist and bashing the movie because you cant stand real life prejudice is just plain narrow minded.
I would like to personally recommend this movie to anyone 17 years of age and older who want to see a great movie with a powerful story to tell. These movie critics are the problem, not the movie.

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18 Jeff Mac January 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm

I think the movie was powerful and sent a gripping message about life, death and learning. I think movie critics bashing the film have been watching too many movies about “Gay Cowboys eating pudding”. Thanks to Eric Cartman for that quote. Flor those who live in fantasy land, Walt Kowalski exists in women and men all over the US. Maybe not to the extreme of the character but it does exist and bashing the movie because you cant stand real life prejudice is just plain narrow minded.
I would like to personally recommend this movie to anyone 17 years of age and older who want to see a great movie with a powerful story to tell. These movie critics are the problem, not the movie.

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19 Eric Melin January 27, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Here’s the real question, though: Can we really all learn a lesson from a racist who’s unrepentant his whole life until the moment he turns himself into a martyr? The answer is no. It’s just ridiculous.

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20 Eric Melin January 27, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Here’s the real question, though: Can we really all learn a lesson from a racist who’s unrepentant his whole life until the moment he turns himself into a martyr? The answer is no. It’s just ridiculous.

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21 karl l January 30, 2009 at 12:04 am

Well done. Disturbing and very revealing.

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22 karl l January 30, 2009 at 12:04 am

Well done. Disturbing and very revealing.

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23 Brett Levings January 30, 2009 at 8:43 am

I honestly cannot believe Clint would pull off such a distasteful movie. B grade movie at its best people.

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24 Brett Levings January 30, 2009 at 8:43 am

I honestly cannot believe Clint would pull off such a distasteful movie. B grade movie at its best people.

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25 Chris Austere aka Dockrey February 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Yeah, there were some serious flaws with the movie. Eric mentioned all of them, but I still liked it. The acting was bad. Even the woman that played his daughter-in-law that played in Rocky Balboa really sucked, as did her husband who played Eastwood’s son. Their dialogue was so unrealistic and stupid. But to me, a movie is good when it haunts you in your thoughts and you think about it the next day. If a movie sucks, you forget it. Sometimes I’m watching a movie and then I remember, ” Hey, I saw this before”. But it sucked so bad I erased it from memory. But when I look at most of Eastwood’s movies from Unforgiven on, they all make up a collective introspective view on glorified violence, the impact of which can only be understood within the context of Eastwood’s acting career. I can understand why some people, especially punks like Eric Melin ;) might not like it, but I still say Eastwood is the man. Plus you can’t trust a guy that doesn’t like Napoleon Dynamite. Eastwood is so much the man, that he can literally carry a movie all by himself. It definitely isn’t his best work, but its nothing to be ashamed of either. As to whether we can learn from racists, I say absolutely. We can demonize people all we want, but there is a common denominator in humanity; we’re not inherently good, we’re inherently bad. Humanists don’t like that, but its true nonetheless. The fact that we find something redeeming about Eastwood’s character testifies to the fact that he, like us, is human and somehow we are able to relate to him. If it doesn’t make sense, that makes it all the more realistic.

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26 Chris Austere aka Dockrey February 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Yeah, there were some serious flaws with the movie. Eric mentioned all of them, but I still liked it. The acting was bad. Even the woman that played his daughter-in-law that played in Rocky Balboa really sucked, as did her husband who played Eastwood’s son. Their dialogue was so unrealistic and stupid. But to me, a movie is good when it haunts you in your thoughts and you think about it the next day. If a movie sucks, you forget it. Sometimes I’m watching a movie and then I remember, ” Hey, I saw this before”. But it sucked so bad I erased it from memory. But when I look at most of Eastwood’s movies from Unforgiven on, they all make up a collective introspective view on glorified violence, the impact of which can only be understood within the context of Eastwood’s acting career. I can understand why some people, especially punks like Eric Melin ;) might not like it, but I still say Eastwood is the man. Plus you can’t trust a guy that doesn’t like Napoleon Dynamite. Eastwood is so much the man, that he can literally carry a movie all by himself. It definitely isn’t his best work, but its nothing to be ashamed of either. As to whether we can learn from racists, I say absolutely. We can demonize people all we want, but there is a common denominator in humanity; we’re not inherently good, we’re inherently bad. Humanists don’t like that, but its true nonetheless. The fact that we find something redeeming about Eastwood’s character testifies to the fact that he, like us, is human and somehow we are able to relate to him. If it doesn’t make sense, that makes it all the more realistic.

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27 Kyle Rogers February 6, 2009 at 6:49 am

Those who want to focus on the racist remarks are gleefully missing the point of the film. It’s a part of Walt the character, like his lung or throat cancer. Its a reality, sometimes reality is hard for people. “Did you hear that? He called those people gooks! Moral outrage! Let’s write the movie producers.” That type of thinking is what is actually ridiculous, not the action of using politically incorrect comments in the film. They are thrown in there to legitimize Walt and bring him to life.

The point of the movie isn’t to be gleaned from the racist comments and anybody who does attempt to do so is either afraid of the film’s message or else is just simple. The film’s message in my opinion is about redemption and good values. The kind of good values that are common to humans as a whole, not one ethnic group.

The final musical overlay as the credits role (sung by Clint himself) is likely to be poked at by critics too, but listen to words before drawing any other conclusions. Comfortable in your own skin, which reminds one of the Trey character who attempts to be somebody he isn’t. Its painfully obvious his true person is not like the three black fellows who give him and Sue a hard time. Which also reflects Thao’s experience, who if he had remained uncomfortable in his own skin, would have likely ended up in the Hmong gang.

In a statement that is likely to offend liberal-minded critics (although they probably can’t articulate why) Walt says to Sue after he gets her away from the three black fellows tormenting her “You should hang around your own people.” Lots of folks will go “How intolerant, how racist, blah blah blah blah thanks for missing the point again and focusing on political correctness instead of on something useful. What he really means is being with somebody who’s comfortable in their own skin, not Trey this confused white kid who has no identity so he tries to be a black kid and they hate/reject him for it.

At the end of the story it is wonderfully non-racist but the fact old Walt says gook, spook, zipperhead and the odd sprinkling of Jew, wop and Mick will offend some people. Grow up, I guess is the best way to respond to that kind of thinking and try and poke through the top layer of the movie to something substantial.

Anyway, rant over but honestly this film is not likely to get the accolades it deserves because most people are afraid of the real message, which strips away the P.C. crap to get to real meat and potatoes of poignant storytelling. A refreshing change, glad I saw it and it will have a home in my DVD collection.

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28 Kyle Rogers February 6, 2009 at 6:49 am

Those who want to focus on the racist remarks are gleefully missing the point of the film. It’s a part of Walt the character, like his lung or throat cancer. Its a reality, sometimes reality is hard for people. “Did you hear that? He called those people gooks! Moral outrage! Let’s write the movie producers.” That type of thinking is what is actually ridiculous, not the action of using politically incorrect comments in the film. They are thrown in there to legitimize Walt and bring him to life.

The point of the movie isn’t to be gleaned from the racist comments and anybody who does attempt to do so is either afraid of the film’s message or else is just simple. The film’s message in my opinion is about redemption and good values. The kind of good values that are common to humans as a whole, not one ethnic group.

The final musical overlay as the credits role (sung by Clint himself) is likely to be poked at by critics too, but listen to words before drawing any other conclusions. Comfortable in your own skin, which reminds one of the Trey character who attempts to be somebody he isn’t. Its painfully obvious his true person is not like the three black fellows who give him and Sue a hard time. Which also reflects Thao’s experience, who if he had remained uncomfortable in his own skin, would have likely ended up in the Hmong gang.

In a statement that is likely to offend liberal-minded critics (although they probably can’t articulate why) Walt says to Sue after he gets her away from the three black fellows tormenting her “You should hang around your own people.” Lots of folks will go “How intolerant, how racist, blah blah blah blah thanks for missing the point again and focusing on political correctness instead of on something useful. What he really means is being with somebody who’s comfortable in their own skin, not Trey this confused white kid who has no identity so he tries to be a black kid and they hate/reject him for it.

At the end of the story it is wonderfully non-racist but the fact old Walt says gook, spook, zipperhead and the odd sprinkling of Jew, wop and Mick will offend some people. Grow up, I guess is the best way to respond to that kind of thinking and try and poke through the top layer of the movie to something substantial.

Anyway, rant over but honestly this film is not likely to get the accolades it deserves because most people are afraid of the real message, which strips away the P.C. crap to get to real meat and potatoes of poignant storytelling. A refreshing change, glad I saw it and it will have a home in my DVD collection.

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29 Chris Austere aka Dockrey February 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm

“Those who want to focus on the racist remarks are gleefully missing the point of the film. It’s a part of Walt the character, like his lung or throat cancer. Its a reality, sometimes reality is hard for people.”

Yeah, in a way he reminded me of my grandfather. Of course, he would be an exaggerated version of him. I never heard him use a racial slur, but he grew up in a very racist world. He was a bigot and he couldn’t help it almost. He was like Archie Bunker. Towards the end of his life he changed as much as could be expected, but inwardly he really wanted to do what was right. But that’s where he was.

The problem with the ideals of political correctness being applied to art is the inherent suppression of real world consciousness. If we, as human beings, cannot examine who we actually are without always reaching out to some false ideal that is perpetually being modified, we are relegating ourselves to lives of self-deception. Suppose, as one academic has done, a person wants to write a book examining the negative role the religion of Judaism plays in the atrocious policies of the nation of Israel against the Palestinians, what title do you think such a person might naturally earn? Yet if someone else poses a similar question towards elements within the Islamic world that are militant, it is more acceptable. What is the Muslim or Arab equivalent to the term “antisemitism”? There isn’t one that I know of. So therefore, exploit any forms of media at your disposal to fight “Islamo-fascism” but leave the poor Jews alone, right? Or you can just not talk about it at all and promote uncomfortable silence when others do.

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30 Chris Austere aka Dockrey February 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm

“Those who want to focus on the racist remarks are gleefully missing the point of the film. It’s a part of Walt the character, like his lung or throat cancer. Its a reality, sometimes reality is hard for people.”

Yeah, in a way he reminded me of my grandfather. Of course, he would be an exaggerated version of him. I never heard him use a racial slur, but he grew up in a very racist world. He was a bigot and he couldn’t help it almost. He was like Archie Bunker. Towards the end of his life he changed as much as could be expected, but inwardly he really wanted to do what was right. But that’s where he was.

The problem with the ideals of political correctness being applied to art is the inherent suppression of real world consciousness. If we, as human beings, cannot examine who we actually are without always reaching out to some false ideal that is perpetually being modified, we are relegating ourselves to lives of self-deception. Suppose, as one academic has done, a person wants to write a book examining the negative role the religion of Judaism plays in the atrocious policies of the nation of Israel against the Palestinians, what title do you think such a person might naturally earn? Yet if someone else poses a similar question towards elements within the Islamic world that are militant, it is more acceptable. What is the Muslim or Arab equivalent to the term “antisemitism”? There isn’t one that I know of. So therefore, exploit any forms of media at your disposal to fight “Islamo-fascism” but leave the poor Jews alone, right? Or you can just not talk about it at all and promote uncomfortable silence when others do.

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31 Brian February 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm

You don’t seem to undertand the importance of any single Clint Eastwood character in the past. “Mr. Eastwood” is a badass among children in this world. Clint had plenty of rascist comments in the movie but what you need to know is that life is about getting along with your neighbors even if you think they are a bunch of gooks. Clint was sorry for his sins in life and was willing to do one right deed for a family of Koreans. “A big mouth doesn’t make a big man.”- The Outlaw Josey Wales. Clint’s actions done for his neighbors at the end of the movie are far more important than a few silly comments he made against mexicans, koreans, and whoever else. You can say whatever you want about Clint Eastwood and his movies. You can go ahead and be dead wrong. Just remember that no one gives a shit.

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32 Brian February 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm

You don’t seem to undertand the importance of any single Clint Eastwood character in the past. “Mr. Eastwood” is a badass among children in this world. Clint had plenty of rascist comments in the movie but what you need to know is that life is about getting along with your neighbors even if you think they are a bunch of gooks. Clint was sorry for his sins in life and was willing to do one right deed for a family of Koreans. “A big mouth doesn’t make a big man.”- The Outlaw Josey Wales. Clint’s actions done for his neighbors at the end of the movie are far more important than a few silly comments he made against mexicans, koreans, and whoever else. You can say whatever you want about Clint Eastwood and his movies. You can go ahead and be dead wrong. Just remember that no one gives a shit.

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33 Kenny February 8, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I just saw this movie and it was pleasant. I can’t say it enlightened me in any way or that it is completely original. Yet, I found it to be very realistic (as most Eastwood movies strive to be) and very well put together. True, the acting wasn’t superb, but I think that added to it’s realism. Sometimes people naturally come off as awkward and a language barrier doesn’t help. The ending reminded me of The Professional and I liked that. Eastwood never surprised me with this movie, but he didn’t have to. It seems obvious that everyone can see what he was trying to do with this movie and I found that notion kind of encouraging.

P.S. It also helped that I had a grandpa named Walt. So yeah.

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34 Kenny February 8, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I just saw this movie and it was pleasant. I can’t say it enlightened me in any way or that it is completely original. Yet, I found it to be very realistic (as most Eastwood movies strive to be) and very well put together. True, the acting wasn’t superb, but I think that added to it’s realism. Sometimes people naturally come off as awkward and a language barrier doesn’t help. The ending reminded me of The Professional and I liked that. Eastwood never surprised me with this movie, but he didn’t have to. It seems obvious that everyone can see what he was trying to do with this movie and I found that notion kind of encouraging.

P.S. It also helped that I had a grandpa named Walt. So yeah.

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35 Max February 13, 2009 at 12:13 am

What these comments and the original review seem to miss, I would suggest, is the real problem that this movie creates. At no time do we see a character from a non-white race finding the strength to overcome their racism. That is to say that Walt, the grizzled racist from an era long past is shown to be capable of abandoning his bigotry, while the Hmung gangbangers are not. It’s the same formula that shows up time and again in Hollywood’s attempts to deal with “multicultural” issues. Witness “American History X” as a correlated film – Danny and Derek manage to overcome their racist views while the film fails to portray a black character as capable of the same levels of introspection and feeling. The ultimate effect is wholly disturbing: the great white hero can change his life, clean up the neighborhood, defeat the gangbangers; the lowly “other” fails to take care of his property, cannot defend his sister, and requires Walt’s paternalism. Overall, I agree wholeheartedly with the review above – the film is very cartoonish and the ending symbolism an absolute joke (didn’t “Cool Hand Luke” kill that one) – but an even more sinister detail lies behind the films plot: Eastwood’s bigoted, libertarian ideology, thus, “get off my lawn.”

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36 Max February 13, 2009 at 12:13 am

What these comments and the original review seem to miss, I would suggest, is the real problem that this movie creates. At no time do we see a character from a non-white race finding the strength to overcome their racism. That is to say that Walt, the grizzled racist from an era long past is shown to be capable of abandoning his bigotry, while the Hmung gangbangers are not. It’s the same formula that shows up time and again in Hollywood’s attempts to deal with “multicultural” issues. Witness “American History X” as a correlated film – Danny and Derek manage to overcome their racist views while the film fails to portray a black character as capable of the same levels of introspection and feeling. The ultimate effect is wholly disturbing: the great white hero can change his life, clean up the neighborhood, defeat the gangbangers; the lowly “other” fails to take care of his property, cannot defend his sister, and requires Walt’s paternalism. Overall, I agree wholeheartedly with the review above – the film is very cartoonish and the ending symbolism an absolute joke (didn’t “Cool Hand Luke” kill that one) – but an even more sinister detail lies behind the films plot: Eastwood’s bigoted, libertarian ideology, thus, “get off my lawn.”

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37 Eric Melin February 13, 2009 at 12:25 am

Max-
Well said. It gets real tricky when we start generalizing the roles of different races in the film, but you are right. It’s hard not to do that based on what we’re given to work with. The lowly “other,” as you put it, is shown to be angry yet helpless. Did it help at all that many of the other whites in the film were completely ineffectual?

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38 Eric Melin February 13, 2009 at 12:25 am

Max-
Well said. It gets real tricky when we start generalizing the roles of different races in the film, but you are right. It’s hard not to do that based on what we’re given to work with. The lowly “other,” as you put it, is shown to be angry yet helpless. Did it help at all that many of the other whites in the film were completely ineffectual?

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39 max February 13, 2009 at 1:04 am

-Well, as you say, they are completely ineffectual. Nevertheless, it also seems they are only there as vehicles for another sinister aspect of Eastwood’s ideology – his disturbing relationship to women. Note the only familial exchange which contains some level of open conflict: Walt’s granddaughter asks him what he’s going to do with the car when he dies. In this, the granddaughter is not all that ineffectual, but self-centered in the absolute, even nefarious. For Eastwood though, it has to be Walt’s granddaughter who desires the object of masculine power – it is a damn Gran Torino after all. Characteristically, at the end of the film Walt’s son casts a disturbed look Tao’s way when Walt’s will gives this masculine symbol to Tao. Not only does this symbolize Walt’s utter abdication of his son – who has failed to produce a first-born, male heir – but it also establishes a continuous father-son line between Walt and Tao.

The overall feeling, however, results in the notion that the granddaughter is a plucky, self-centered, 21st century bitch who has to be taught that she cannot have what the real men of the 1950s can: real mechanized power firing on eight cylinders. Most problematically though, the granddaughter’s desires for power find their apotheosis in Sue, the woman who can verbally stand up to men. She is rapped. Would Eastwood suggest that a similar fate might befall the granddaughter, who also desires power in a masculine world? Of course, on some level, I’m generalizing and reading into it too much, I recognize that, but what I also recognize is that Eastwood has more than a passing issue with rape: witness High Plains Drifter, Sudden Impact, and now this. He did learn from the master-male filmmaker after all, Leone.

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40 max February 13, 2009 at 1:04 am

-Well, as you say, they are completely ineffectual. Nevertheless, it also seems they are only there as vehicles for another sinister aspect of Eastwood’s ideology – his disturbing relationship to women. Note the only familial exchange which contains some level of open conflict: Walt’s granddaughter asks him what he’s going to do with the car when he dies. In this, the granddaughter is not all that ineffectual, but self-centered in the absolute, even nefarious. For Eastwood though, it has to be Walt’s granddaughter who desires the object of masculine power – it is a damn Gran Torino after all. Characteristically, at the end of the film Walt’s son casts a disturbed look Tao’s way when Walt’s will gives this masculine symbol to Tao. Not only does this symbolize Walt’s utter abdication of his son – who has failed to produce a first-born, male heir – but it also establishes a continuous father-son line between Walt and Tao.

The overall feeling, however, results in the notion that the granddaughter is a plucky, self-centered, 21st century bitch who has to be taught that she cannot have what the real men of the 1950s can: real mechanized power firing on eight cylinders. Most problematically though, the granddaughter’s desires for power find their apotheosis in Sue, the woman who can verbally stand up to men. She is rapped. Would Eastwood suggest that a similar fate might befall the granddaughter, who also desires power in a masculine world? Of course, on some level, I’m generalizing and reading into it too much, I recognize that, but what I also recognize is that Eastwood has more than a passing issue with rape: witness High Plains Drifter, Sudden Impact, and now this. He did learn from the master-male filmmaker after all, Leone.

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41 Lance February 15, 2009 at 9:58 pm

This is a movie with a core message about what it means to stand up and be a man. Every single negative review I’ve read of it has come across as emasculated, whiny, and overtly PC.

“The overall feeling, however, results in the notion that the granddaughter is a plucky, self-centered, 21st century bitch who has to be taught that she cannot have what the real men of the 1950s can: real mechanized power firing on eight cylinders. Most problematically though, the granddaughter’s desires for power find their apotheosis in Sue, the woman who can verbally stand up to men. She is rapped. Would Eastwood suggest that a similar fate might befall the granddaughter, who also desires power in a masculine world?”

This is a perfect example. You can take your ridiculous feminist-school neurotic overanalysis elsewhere. Sue was raped because the gangbangers were cowardly baby gangsters who struck at her and her family instead of manning up and retaliating directly at Walt. The lesson isn’t that Sue should go back to the kitchen, it is that the gang were reprehensible cowards. Also, his granddaughter was shallow, egotistical, and unappreciative of Walt as a person. Why the hell would he give her his car? Stop trying to read a bunch of things into the movie that aren’t there.

This movie is just way too real for people who think like this to handle, and that’s what makes it wonderful.

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42 Lance February 15, 2009 at 9:58 pm

This is a movie with a core message about what it means to stand up and be a man. Every single negative review I’ve read of it has come across as emasculated, whiny, and overtly PC.

“The overall feeling, however, results in the notion that the granddaughter is a plucky, self-centered, 21st century bitch who has to be taught that she cannot have what the real men of the 1950s can: real mechanized power firing on eight cylinders. Most problematically though, the granddaughter’s desires for power find their apotheosis in Sue, the woman who can verbally stand up to men. She is rapped. Would Eastwood suggest that a similar fate might befall the granddaughter, who also desires power in a masculine world?”

This is a perfect example. You can take your ridiculous feminist-school neurotic overanalysis elsewhere. Sue was raped because the gangbangers were cowardly baby gangsters who struck at her and her family instead of manning up and retaliating directly at Walt. The lesson isn’t that Sue should go back to the kitchen, it is that the gang were reprehensible cowards. Also, his granddaughter was shallow, egotistical, and unappreciative of Walt as a person. Why the hell would he give her his car? Stop trying to read a bunch of things into the movie that aren’t there.

This movie is just way too real for people who think like this to handle, and that’s what makes it wonderful.

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43 Marilyn Rea February 15, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Those of you who found the unrelenting racial epithets over-the-top and over-used have never spent much time in a blue-collar, shuttered-factory, European immigrant neighborhood populated by ethnic minorities and a few old die-hards. Did you notice that Walt Kowalski’s stream of ethnic slurs were deftly confined to exchanges with a very select group of people – mostly one-on-one? Geez. That barbershop was 100% spot on. Yes, you can most certainly still find places like Walt’s neighborhood, the local VFW Hall bar, and real people like Walt. We cringe, but they are among us. Some of them, indeed, fought for our flag. Doubt that any of them have been poetically crucified for their neighbors, though – I’ll give you that.

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44 Marilyn Rea February 15, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Those of you who found the unrelenting racial epithets over-the-top and over-used have never spent much time in a blue-collar, shuttered-factory, European immigrant neighborhood populated by ethnic minorities and a few old die-hards. Did you notice that Walt Kowalski’s stream of ethnic slurs were deftly confined to exchanges with a very select group of people – mostly one-on-one? Geez. That barbershop was 100% spot on. Yes, you can most certainly still find places like Walt’s neighborhood, the local VFW Hall bar, and real people like Walt. We cringe, but they are among us. Some of them, indeed, fought for our flag. Doubt that any of them have been poetically crucified for their neighbors, though – I’ll give you that.

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45 Mark February 18, 2009 at 4:30 am

I guess there’s no accounting for taste – everyone likes different stuff and I guess it partially depends on your mood when you watch it. The situation and characters were realistic, the story was good. Sure – the acting was bad from the english-speaking hmong folk (especially “Toad”), and the barber scene was a bit surreal – but that was a side show.

The main event was the opportunity to watch a grizzled old Clint doing what he does best one last time. In 200 years there’s a good chance that Elvis, Ali and Clint will be the only names remembered from our generation. Enjoy him.

p.s. Max Said:

“What these comments and the original review seem to miss, I would suggest, is the real problem that this movie creates. At no time do we see a character from a non-white race finding the strength to overcome their racism. That is to say that Walt, the grizzled racist from an era long past is shown to be capable of abandoning his bigotry, while the Hmung gangbangers are not.”

Your point? the family from next door totally overcame their misgivings against Walt based on his actions in helping them out. Even the grandmother that hated him came over in the end. The non-whites weren’t really portrayed as racists in the movie – the group of black bullies didn’t want to harm Walt because he was an old guy, and likewise the group of asians were like “go away old man” until he made it personal by beating one of them up. All of their actions were against themselves (actually their own family). I didn’t see racist behavior on the part of any of the non-white characters.

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46 Mark February 18, 2009 at 4:30 am

I guess there’s no accounting for taste – everyone likes different stuff and I guess it partially depends on your mood when you watch it. The situation and characters were realistic, the story was good. Sure – the acting was bad from the english-speaking hmong folk (especially “Toad”), and the barber scene was a bit surreal – but that was a side show.

The main event was the opportunity to watch a grizzled old Clint doing what he does best one last time. In 200 years there’s a good chance that Elvis, Ali and Clint will be the only names remembered from our generation. Enjoy him.

p.s. Max Said:

“What these comments and the original review seem to miss, I would suggest, is the real problem that this movie creates. At no time do we see a character from a non-white race finding the strength to overcome their racism. That is to say that Walt, the grizzled racist from an era long past is shown to be capable of abandoning his bigotry, while the Hmung gangbangers are not.”

Your point? the family from next door totally overcame their misgivings against Walt based on his actions in helping them out. Even the grandmother that hated him came over in the end. The non-whites weren’t really portrayed as racists in the movie – the group of black bullies didn’t want to harm Walt because he was an old guy, and likewise the group of asians were like “go away old man” until he made it personal by beating one of them up. All of their actions were against themselves (actually their own family). I didn’t see racist behavior on the part of any of the non-white characters.

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47 JTK8800 February 18, 2009 at 7:11 am

As an unabashed fan of Clint Eastwood, I was fortunate enough to catch Gran Torino at our local theater. The show was sold out and my date and I were relegated to the front row! No matter-this is an entertaining film and yet another solid delivery from Eastwood. For those who find the language offensive or the Eastwood character unappealing, these are just a couple of points this film makes without becoming a ‘message movie’. There are many layers to this story and they are handled deftly by Eastwood, who also directs. Ironically, Walt becomes attached to a family that espouses many of his beliefs-loyalty, commitment, and respect for elders and parents, etc. Walt’s confession to his priest is practically irrelevant compared to the one he delivers to the boy. Also, we never see Walt actually driving the Gran Torino-that honor is taken by the young man who has made an almost bigger transition in life than the man who gave him the car. Solid B+. Hopefully not the last time we’ll see Clint in front of the camera.

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48 JTK8800 February 18, 2009 at 7:11 am

As an unabashed fan of Clint Eastwood, I was fortunate enough to catch Gran Torino at our local theater. The show was sold out and my date and I were relegated to the front row! No matter-this is an entertaining film and yet another solid delivery from Eastwood. For those who find the language offensive or the Eastwood character unappealing, these are just a couple of points this film makes without becoming a ‘message movie’. There are many layers to this story and they are handled deftly by Eastwood, who also directs. Ironically, Walt becomes attached to a family that espouses many of his beliefs-loyalty, commitment, and respect for elders and parents, etc. Walt’s confession to his priest is practically irrelevant compared to the one he delivers to the boy. Also, we never see Walt actually driving the Gran Torino-that honor is taken by the young man who has made an almost bigger transition in life than the man who gave him the car. Solid B+. Hopefully not the last time we’ll see Clint in front of the camera.

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49 Ian February 26, 2009 at 11:44 am

Eric – Re the ‘obvious image’ in the ending – did it occur to you that it might have been intended as ironic humour? That’s how I saw it.

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50 Ian February 26, 2009 at 11:44 am

Eric – Re the ‘obvious image’ in the ending – did it occur to you that it might have been intended as ironic humour? That’s how I saw it.

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51 Eric Melin February 26, 2009 at 5:45 pm

No. Not at all. I think it was dead serious.

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52 Eric Melin February 26, 2009 at 5:45 pm

No. Not at all. I think it was dead serious.

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53 Miss Blue March 8, 2009 at 8:18 am

Walt’s final act of sacrifice (even the Zippo thing)… I saw it before but I can’t place it. Does anybody remember? Am I watching too many Hong Kong movies? Thanks.

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54 Miss Blue March 8, 2009 at 8:18 am

Walt’s final act of sacrifice (even the Zippo thing)… I saw it before but I can’t place it. Does anybody remember? Am I watching too many Hong Kong movies? Thanks.

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55 Billy March 29, 2009 at 1:20 am

I must say, I can’t disagree more with the reviewers of this. I thought the story was real and gritty and in the face of the cliché’d trite that spews from hollywood these days.

I went into the movie not knowing what to expect except Eastwood, a gun and a car. I was pleasantly uncomfortable throughout the movie. The awkwardness portrayed was real and I coul relate to real awkward cross-cultural experiences of my own. I found myself laughing loudly at very unusual places.

The thing that disturbed me most about the movie was the blasphemy, littered everywhere. I understand it’s part of the character of Walt, however, due to that I won’t be buying it or watching it again. The absolute worst for me was hearing the priest blaspheme.

I thought the story was rich, colourful and often unpredictable: When the gang retaliated at the family and not him… the end where he took out a lighter – totally anti-climatic for an Eastwood movie.
A sub plot that I think hit the nail on the head was his estranged family, who seemed only too interested in their pickings when he passd away. I think they were a bit one dimensional and he could have introduced something there, however, some family are actually like that, sadly – missing the genuineness of their father/grandfather because he’s distanced himself.

While I picked up the parallel of Eastwood laying down his life for others, it only meant something grand to me because it reminded me of the bigger sacrifice made for me. I think people who don’t share that sentiment will probably just be annoyed by it.

Also, feel-good “give the car to the kid” scene offered a happy ending after-all and lightened the blow to the audience experiencing the main lead die.

All in all, it was good entertainment, a great story, not perfect and not for everyone. I’m glad I watched it but I won’t be seeing it again.

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56 Billy March 29, 2009 at 1:20 am

I must say, I can’t disagree more with the reviewers of this. I thought the story was real and gritty and in the face of the cliché’d trite that spews from hollywood these days.

I went into the movie not knowing what to expect except Eastwood, a gun and a car. I was pleasantly uncomfortable throughout the movie. The awkwardness portrayed was real and I coul relate to real awkward cross-cultural experiences of my own. I found myself laughing loudly at very unusual places.

The thing that disturbed me most about the movie was the blasphemy, littered everywhere. I understand it’s part of the character of Walt, however, due to that I won’t be buying it or watching it again. The absolute worst for me was hearing the priest blaspheme.

I thought the story was rich, colourful and often unpredictable: When the gang retaliated at the family and not him… the end where he took out a lighter – totally anti-climatic for an Eastwood movie.
A sub plot that I think hit the nail on the head was his estranged family, who seemed only too interested in their pickings when he passd away. I think they were a bit one dimensional and he could have introduced something there, however, some family are actually like that, sadly – missing the genuineness of their father/grandfather because he’s distanced himself.

While I picked up the parallel of Eastwood laying down his life for others, it only meant something grand to me because it reminded me of the bigger sacrifice made for me. I think people who don’t share that sentiment will probably just be annoyed by it.

Also, feel-good “give the car to the kid” scene offered a happy ending after-all and lightened the blow to the audience experiencing the main lead die.

All in all, it was good entertainment, a great story, not perfect and not for everyone. I’m glad I watched it but I won’t be seeing it again.

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57 NABI May 4, 2009 at 12:09 pm

ZIPPO? DID SOMEONE SAY ‘ZIPPO’–THE FAMOUS LIGHTER THAT IT’S OBLIGATORY TO USE IN NEAR FILM NOIRE TYPE HOLLYWOOD MOVIES? I DIDN’T SEE THE FILM AND WON’T–EASTWOOD’S JUST TOO MUSTY, WEIRDLY MAWKISH, HAM FISTED, AND SELF INDULGENT FOR ME. ANYONE REMEMBER THE MOVIE WHERE HE RECEIVED A HEART TRANSPLANT FROM A YOUNG VICTIM YET STILL MANAGED TO BE THE HERO AND RUN OFF WITH HER SISTER? HOPEFULLY THIS IS THE ULTIMATE COMMENT. RIP.

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58 NABI May 4, 2009 at 12:09 pm

ZIPPO? DID SOMEONE SAY ‘ZIPPO’–THE FAMOUS LIGHTER THAT IT’S OBLIGATORY TO USE IN NEAR FILM NOIRE TYPE HOLLYWOOD MOVIES? I DIDN’T SEE THE FILM AND WON’T–EASTWOOD’S JUST TOO MUSTY, WEIRDLY MAWKISH, HAM FISTED, AND SELF INDULGENT FOR ME. ANYONE REMEMBER THE MOVIE WHERE HE RECEIVED A HEART TRANSPLANT FROM A YOUNG VICTIM YET STILL MANAGED TO BE THE HERO AND RUN OFF WITH HER SISTER? HOPEFULLY THIS IS THE ULTIMATE COMMENT. RIP.

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59 JR June 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm

First of all this was a finely crafted movie in every way. The meat and potatoes of this movie obviously slipped through the, probably manicured, “little girl hands” of the reviewer.
Walt is a relic from a lost time of American culture. An era when Americans made things, loved their country, and took pride in their work. Americans back then understood the value of hard work, dedication, and what it meant to stand for right and wrong. A stark contrast with the America we know today. Don’t get me wrong there are still men like that left today. However we live in a society now of disposable everything, instant gratification, and a what have you done for me lately attitude. It makes me sick! A lot of the messes we are in today are due to this shift in culture and attitude in this country. I guess whether you grasp the underlying message of this movie depends on the context of your upbringing and experiences. If all you know is the inside of some limp wristed liberal professor’s classroom then that is the lens through which you view the world around you. A person like that is far more worried about what is fair, than what is right or wrong. Heaven forbid we should make anyone feel bad about themselves.
Everyone is crying about the racial slurs used throughout this movie. You have to understand that Walt predated political correctness. His choice of words was habitual rather than malicious. People fear what they don’t understand, and through interaction with the Hmong people Walt discovered that they were more like him than his “spoiled rotten family”. He never outright hated the Hmong neighbors but wanted to insulate himself from them because he didn’t understand them. The movie had a few wonderfully subtle parts, like the scene where the Mexican gang was yelling at Thao. He kept walking and reading but was smiling at the same time. That scene seemed odd to me until the scene where Sue explained some of the differences in culture to Walt. That makes for a realistic movie experience. For those of you who were to busy gasping over the use of the word gook or fish head, the Hmong people often smile or laugh when confronted or yelled at.
True racism is an outright hate of another race simply because of their race. Racism is not words, racism is attitude and belief. There is a difference there. This movie was more about the America that we have lost, than it ever was about race. The underlying message has been completely missed by most critics.
The religious tone of this movie has been completely skewed as well. There is no greater love than to lay down your own life for that of a brother, and that is exactly what was done in the end of this movie. Proof positive that actions speak louder than words. Perhaps the reason that the reviewer can’t fathom the ending is that he would never have the balls to even consider sacrificing himself so that someone else could live. So he finds it ridiculous and unrealistic.
That is how I see it. Great Movie! Period.

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60 JR June 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm

First of all this was a finely crafted movie in every way. The meat and potatoes of this movie obviously slipped through the, probably manicured, “little girl hands” of the reviewer.
Walt is a relic from a lost time of American culture. An era when Americans made things, loved their country, and took pride in their work. Americans back then understood the value of hard work, dedication, and what it meant to stand for right and wrong. A stark contrast with the America we know today. Don’t get me wrong there are still men like that left today. However we live in a society now of disposable everything, instant gratification, and a what have you done for me lately attitude. It makes me sick! A lot of the messes we are in today are due to this shift in culture and attitude in this country. I guess whether you grasp the underlying message of this movie depends on the context of your upbringing and experiences. If all you know is the inside of some limp wristed liberal professor’s classroom then that is the lens through which you view the world around you. A person like that is far more worried about what is fair, than what is right or wrong. Heaven forbid we should make anyone feel bad about themselves.
Everyone is crying about the racial slurs used throughout this movie. You have to understand that Walt predated political correctness. His choice of words was habitual rather than malicious. People fear what they don’t understand, and through interaction with the Hmong people Walt discovered that they were more like him than his “spoiled rotten family”. He never outright hated the Hmong neighbors but wanted to insulate himself from them because he didn’t understand them. The movie had a few wonderfully subtle parts, like the scene where the Mexican gang was yelling at Thao. He kept walking and reading but was smiling at the same time. That scene seemed odd to me until the scene where Sue explained some of the differences in culture to Walt. That makes for a realistic movie experience. For those of you who were to busy gasping over the use of the word gook or fish head, the Hmong people often smile or laugh when confronted or yelled at.
True racism is an outright hate of another race simply because of their race. Racism is not words, racism is attitude and belief. There is a difference there. This movie was more about the America that we have lost, than it ever was about race. The underlying message has been completely missed by most critics.
The religious tone of this movie has been completely skewed as well. There is no greater love than to lay down your own life for that of a brother, and that is exactly what was done in the end of this movie. Proof positive that actions speak louder than words. Perhaps the reason that the reviewer can’t fathom the ending is that he would never have the balls to even consider sacrificing himself so that someone else could live. So he finds it ridiculous and unrealistic.
That is how I see it. Great Movie! Period.

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61 PhilC July 2, 2009 at 6:49 pm

This movie did as was intended. It entertained you and got you all sharing ideas and perceptions. Whatever they may be.

Aside from NABI, you all have valid points.

No one mentioned the criteria for Toad getting the car. I thought it was hilarious and had to rewind to see it again haha!

Clint is among the best!

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62 PhilC July 2, 2009 at 6:49 pm

This movie did as was intended. It entertained you and got you all sharing ideas and perceptions. Whatever they may be.

Aside from NABI, you all have valid points.

No one mentioned the criteria for Toad getting the car. I thought it was hilarious and had to rewind to see it again haha!

Clint is among the best!

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63 Patrick July 26, 2009 at 6:27 pm

the movie was good in general with a fine plot and all…clint eastwoods acting was really good, maybe sometimes unrealistic but it didnt suffer. what really bothered me was how bad bee van and ahney her are as actors. the horrible amateurish acting was extremely distracting and with some practice they could at least make a highscool play…and maybe in ten years theyll make a small hollywood film..but the casting director really must of been blind and deaf to how unrealistic, awkward, and forced the acting comes off…the movie would have been better with decent actors to play the two siblings

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64 Patrick July 26, 2009 at 6:27 pm

the movie was good in general with a fine plot and all…clint eastwoods acting was really good, maybe sometimes unrealistic but it didnt suffer. what really bothered me was how bad bee van and ahney her are as actors. the horrible amateurish acting was extremely distracting and with some practice they could at least make a highscool play…and maybe in ten years theyll make a small hollywood film..but the casting director really must of been blind and deaf to how unrealistic, awkward, and forced the acting comes off…the movie would have been better with decent actors to play the two siblings

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65 Rob M. August 15, 2009 at 5:58 pm

What a shallow review.

Firstly, you joke about the racist Korean War veterans learning that “people are people everywhere.” Did you not notice that Walt’s sense of morality was at odds with his racism, and that it took an extremely important event with huge moral connotations to transcend the racism? Don’t you remember the scene when he left Thao in the basement and told him about what it felt to kill a person?

Hint: The character’s hypocrisy at being a both a supposedly moral and racist man is dealt with in the movie’s climax.

Walt not expressing his affection and being awkward with Asian people he cares about is a ridiculous criticism of the movie. You don’t believe that Korean War veterans (hint: Korea is in Asia) could possibly display those traits in real life? What do you expect a curmudgeon Korean War veteran to act like in this situation?

And your criticism of the end is laughable. Walt had killed Koreans in the War and obviously had not come to terms with it (notice he didn’t bring it up at the confessional?). He had a very serious throat or lung problem (coughing up blood, remember?). He knew that his fix to the problem had to be permanent. He had developed a close friendship with a boy that had been repeatedly abused and whose sister had been beaten and most likely raped. And you think his actions represented a laughable imagery?

Oh but this movie had “frank racism.” Racism is bad, right? Yeah, this must be a bad movie.

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66 Rob M. August 15, 2009 at 5:58 pm

What a shallow review.

Firstly, you joke about the racist Korean War veterans learning that “people are people everywhere.” Did you not notice that Walt’s sense of morality was at odds with his racism, and that it took an extremely important event with huge moral connotations to transcend the racism? Don’t you remember the scene when he left Thao in the basement and told him about what it felt to kill a person?

Hint: The character’s hypocrisy at being a both a supposedly moral and racist man is dealt with in the movie’s climax.

Walt not expressing his affection and being awkward with Asian people he cares about is a ridiculous criticism of the movie. You don’t believe that Korean War veterans (hint: Korea is in Asia) could possibly display those traits in real life? What do you expect a curmudgeon Korean War veteran to act like in this situation?

And your criticism of the end is laughable. Walt had killed Koreans in the War and obviously had not come to terms with it (notice he didn’t bring it up at the confessional?). He had a very serious throat or lung problem (coughing up blood, remember?). He knew that his fix to the problem had to be permanent. He had developed a close friendship with a boy that had been repeatedly abused and whose sister had been beaten and most likely raped. And you think his actions represented a laughable imagery?

Oh but this movie had “frank racism.” Racism is bad, right? Yeah, this must be a bad movie.

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67 Barr S. September 21, 2009 at 9:12 am

I finally watched this movie…

I think that too often critics (actually people in general, because everyone is a critic right?)want to intellectualize something that is so very basic. It’s not that serious. Yes I could very well sit here and discuss the poor acting, imagery and production, however I chose not to and because of that I was able to enjoy the movie and take something from it.

Mr. Melin: In real life PEOPLE play racism for laughs and most times the jokes DON’T let up. LIFE, not just movie making, is tricky because the roles of races are generalized. From where do you think the premise of the movie was taken? Did Eastwood invent racism and generalizations? Furthermore, I’m quite suprised at Whitney Mathews (whose “professional” critique you boasted). Her review is quite hypocritical considering that the goal of her blog is to get people to “focus on the content”
“Part of my goal with this blog is change the stereotype that
bloggers are lazy, innaccurate and self-serving. I try to
focus on the content, not on me… ”

Mathews: you missed your own mark. Additionally, I would have to respectfully disagree with your comment that “The movie’s attempts at touching, inspiring moments are ruined by bad acting.” No, Mathews it was actually ruined by one bloggers seeming lack of experience with racism and inability to “focus on the content”.

Max: If you want to redo the movie from a non-White perspective, go for it. The movie was primarily about Walt’s issues, and thus his “overcoming”. I think you wanted the movie to be something else entirely. Watch a few more films and you’ll find your the stories of redemption you’re looking for.

P.S. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. Annoying to some, but not me. Then again like I said we tend to intellectualize things. Maybe some just don’t get it and didn’t like it. I got it and I enjoyed the movie-sans the language.

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68 Barr S. September 21, 2009 at 9:12 am

I finally watched this movie…

I think that too often critics (actually people in general, because everyone is a critic right?)want to intellectualize something that is so very basic. It’s not that serious. Yes I could very well sit here and discuss the poor acting, imagery and production, however I chose not to and because of that I was able to enjoy the movie and take something from it.

Mr. Melin: In real life PEOPLE play racism for laughs and most times the jokes DON’T let up. LIFE, not just movie making, is tricky because the roles of races are generalized. From where do you think the premise of the movie was taken? Did Eastwood invent racism and generalizations? Furthermore, I’m quite suprised at Whitney Mathews (whose “professional” critique you boasted). Her review is quite hypocritical considering that the goal of her blog is to get people to “focus on the content”
“Part of my goal with this blog is change the stereotype that
bloggers are lazy, innaccurate and self-serving. I try to
focus on the content, not on me… ”

Mathews: you missed your own mark. Additionally, I would have to respectfully disagree with your comment that “The movie’s attempts at touching, inspiring moments are ruined by bad acting.” No, Mathews it was actually ruined by one bloggers seeming lack of experience with racism and inability to “focus on the content”.

Max: If you want to redo the movie from a non-White perspective, go for it. The movie was primarily about Walt’s issues, and thus his “overcoming”. I think you wanted the movie to be something else entirely. Watch a few more films and you’ll find your the stories of redemption you’re looking for.

P.S. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. Annoying to some, but not me. Then again like I said we tend to intellectualize things. Maybe some just don’t get it and didn’t like it. I got it and I enjoyed the movie-sans the language.

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69 Eric Melin September 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Barr S.-
I agree that the roles of race can be generalized. That doesn’t mean that everything must be played to simplistic, laughable caricature. What I think ‘Gran Torino’ does is miscalculate horribly the way to present this kind of message. I also agree with Whitney that the acting of many of the cast members (the kids and especially the priest) was not up to snuff with Eastwood. It presented a chasm that was too deep to get across and added to the ‘unreality’ of a movie that very much wanted to be taken seriously.

I appreciate all of the comments, negative or otherwise on this post. It’s clearly a divisive movie and I think it this kind of passionate discussion can only illuminate Eastwood’s intentions, which were perhaps noble. It’s the delivery method of those ideals that I take issue with.

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70 Eric Melin September 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Barr S.-
I agree that the roles of race can be generalized. That doesn’t mean that everything must be played to simplistic, laughable caricature. What I think ‘Gran Torino’ does is miscalculate horribly the way to present this kind of message. I also agree with Whitney that the acting of many of the cast members (the kids and especially the priest) was not up to snuff with Eastwood. It presented a chasm that was too deep to get across and added to the ‘unreality’ of a movie that very much wanted to be taken seriously.

I appreciate all of the comments, negative or otherwise on this post. It’s clearly a divisive movie and I think it this kind of passionate discussion can only illuminate Eastwood’s intentions, which were perhaps noble. It’s the delivery method of those ideals that I take issue with.

Reply

71 Barr S. September 22, 2009 at 3:22 am

Yes, Mr. Melin, the actors could have been more seasoned. Yes, the scenes when Thao was being acosted recieved a furrowed brow because of the acting. Yes, the priest was very Hallmark Channel. Evenso, those of us who can relate to or have empathy for the characters in these situations do not find it that difficult to “get over” and focus on the content. Though much of the acting and dialogue may have been laughable I couldn’t laugh long because of the reality of these issues. Afterall it’s the emotional and psychological impressions that keep movie goers handing over billions to keep this and other productions coming.

I can respect your comments from your vantage point as a film critic. I was just disapointed to read your (and other) comments in that you couldn’t get past the acting and have something insightful to say about the content of the film. It seemed like you were a bit insensitive to the subject matter. Perhaps your intentions were noble as well. It is the lack of sensitivity to the content of the film in your delivery that I took issue with. You are right, this was a film that elicited an emotional response(for some). As a result I am passionate about my opinions of it. I appreciate the film for what it was- relentless priest, inexperienced Hmong actors and all.

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72 Barr S. September 22, 2009 at 3:22 am

Yes, Mr. Melin, the actors could have been more seasoned. Yes, the scenes when Thao was being acosted recieved a furrowed brow because of the acting. Yes, the priest was very Hallmark Channel. Evenso, those of us who can relate to or have empathy for the characters in these situations do not find it that difficult to “get over” and focus on the content. Though much of the acting and dialogue may have been laughable I couldn’t laugh long because of the reality of these issues. Afterall it’s the emotional and psychological impressions that keep movie goers handing over billions to keep this and other productions coming.

I can respect your comments from your vantage point as a film critic. I was just disapointed to read your (and other) comments in that you couldn’t get past the acting and have something insightful to say about the content of the film. It seemed like you were a bit insensitive to the subject matter. Perhaps your intentions were noble as well. It is the lack of sensitivity to the content of the film in your delivery that I took issue with. You are right, this was a film that elicited an emotional response(for some). As a result I am passionate about my opinions of it. I appreciate the film for what it was- relentless priest, inexperienced Hmong actors and all.

Reply

73 Eric Melin September 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm

This is an interesting fundamental difference in filmgoing that I find a lot. Some react the broad strokes better than others. I find Eastwood’s methods in this film to be reductionary to the subject matter and undermining to the point of the film. I can respect that you looked past it, but for me it’s a deal-killer. In no way were my comments insensitive to the issue at hand.
Neither is this (which I am repeating from above since this comment thread is so long): Can we really all learn a lesson from a racist who’s unrepentant his whole life until the moment he turns himself into a martyr? The answer is no. It’s just ridiculous.

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74 Eric Melin September 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm

This is an interesting fundamental difference in filmgoing that I find a lot. Some react the broad strokes better than others. I find Eastwood’s methods in this film to be reductionary to the subject matter and undermining to the point of the film. I can respect that you looked past it, but for me it’s a deal-killer. In no way were my comments insensitive to the issue at hand.
Neither is this (which I am repeating from above since this comment thread is so long): Can we really all learn a lesson from a racist who’s unrepentant his whole life until the moment he turns himself into a martyr? The answer is no. It’s just ridiculous.

Reply

75 Barr S. September 22, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Mr. Melin fortunately for me it wasn’t merely the unrepentant racist I responded to. Would you like to have seen him repent earlier in the film? Would that have made it more reasonable to you? It seems that you wanted this presented in a perfect little package with what you would have been more realistic scenarios. What about “a racist who’s unrepentant his whole life until the moment he turns himself into a martyr” bothers you so much? Is it the idea that he could live that way his whole life and then is supposed to receive respect and forgiveness because of an eleventh hour moment of heroics? Is it that the idea of him dying in that way unrealistic period?

You actually could learn a lesson from this film- if you choose to. You are bothered that he was unrepentant until the self sacrificial moment at the end. Be sure to handle your life differently. When you make your movie do so with better acting and a script that can be taken seriously. I am going to take your comments as a defense to the subject matter. I guess you just feel that Eastwood disrespected the subject matter in his presentation. That’s fine. I wonder if you feel any way about this subject matter at all, but that’s not the dicussion we are having. So, are there any films that you have watched on this subject matter that did have an impact on you? One’s which you were able to learn a lesson from? I am curious to know what would have met your standards.

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76 Barr S. September 22, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Mr. Melin fortunately for me it wasn’t merely the unrepentant racist I responded to. Would you like to have seen him repent earlier in the film? Would that have made it more reasonable to you? It seems that you wanted this presented in a perfect little package with what you would have been more realistic scenarios. What about “a racist who’s unrepentant his whole life until the moment he turns himself into a martyr” bothers you so much? Is it the idea that he could live that way his whole life and then is supposed to receive respect and forgiveness because of an eleventh hour moment of heroics? Is it that the idea of him dying in that way unrealistic period?

You actually could learn a lesson from this film- if you choose to. You are bothered that he was unrepentant until the self sacrificial moment at the end. Be sure to handle your life differently. When you make your movie do so with better acting and a script that can be taken seriously. I am going to take your comments as a defense to the subject matter. I guess you just feel that Eastwood disrespected the subject matter in his presentation. That’s fine. I wonder if you feel any way about this subject matter at all, but that’s not the dicussion we are having. So, are there any films that you have watched on this subject matter that did have an impact on you? One’s which you were able to learn a lesson from? I am curious to know what would have met your standards.

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77 Eric Melin September 23, 2009 at 9:19 am

No, dying earlier or having the realization earlier would have just slightly changed the movie, which was already fundamentally flawed.
The lesson I learned from this film is the same one I learned from “Crash”: Racism is bad and there are far better ways to express that.
“Do the Right Thing” is the most humanistic, thought-provoking movie I have ever seen about racism. And it’s actually funny to boot!

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78 Eric Melin September 23, 2009 at 9:19 am

No, dying earlier or having the realization earlier would have just slightly changed the movie, which was already fundamentally flawed.
The lesson I learned from this film is the same one I learned from “Crash”: Racism is bad and there are far better ways to express that.
“Do the Right Thing” is the most humanistic, thought-provoking movie I have ever seen about racism. And it’s actually funny to boot!

Reply

79 Jason October 19, 2009 at 11:35 am

It’s so easy for progressives to just discount people from Walt’s generation as mere racists. However, the type of racism that exists in Walt’s character is not the same the resided in the Jim Crow era South. Walt hated and insulted all races, not just the colored ones and as the barbershop scene revealed, ethnic insults don’t stop at the Caucasian level. Even if you are white, you can still be a “Pollock,” an “Irish Bastard,” etc and anyone that has served in the Armed Forces (particularly during the Korean war era) can tell you that no one was exempt from an ethnic slur. Is it a character flaw? Sure and this film is quick to point it out. Does that make him a demon? No it doesn’t any more than being a cranky old introvert.

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80 Jason October 19, 2009 at 11:35 am

It’s so easy for progressives to just discount people from Walt’s generation as mere racists. However, the type of racism that exists in Walt’s character is not the same the resided in the Jim Crow era South. Walt hated and insulted all races, not just the colored ones and as the barbershop scene revealed, ethnic insults don’t stop at the Caucasian level. Even if you are white, you can still be a “Pollock,” an “Irish Bastard,” etc and anyone that has served in the Armed Forces (particularly during the Korean war era) can tell you that no one was exempt from an ethnic slur. Is it a character flaw? Sure and this film is quick to point it out. Does that make him a demon? No it doesn’t any more than being a cranky old introvert.

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81 Andy October 27, 2009 at 4:03 pm

I thought this was a very good movie. A-minus. I enjoyed the comments posted here in rebutal to the very poor review. I still have a problem with this movie review: “Can we really all learn a lesson from a racist who’s unrepentant his whole life until the moment he turns himself into a martyr? The answer is no. It’s just ridiculous.” There were many lessons here. In the real world, we have to learn lessons from everyone, even people we don’t like. One lesson is a parallel to very recent headlines in Chicago. When you don’t have someone in a neighborhood who stands up to the bullies, thugs and gang-members, you wind up with a city like Chicago where an honor student is beaten to death a few blocks from his school in broad daylight and no one has the gonads to testify as a witness against the thugs. Those of you who can’t get beyond Walt’s racism, did you miss the other racism from almost every other character in the movie? It is so funny how it is always the white person’s racism that people notice, not all of the other blatant racism. And the ending symbolism? It is so fashionable to “hate” christian symbolism but the reality is that this is the heart of Christianity: self-sacrificial love. But most people can’t see that because they get bogged down in the imperfect people who try to live up to the ideals of Christianity. Just like movie critics and intellectuals who won’t see past the character of Walt; they can’t see past the flaws of the church to see the ideals of the Christ. This was an excellent movie. They are using this film in a multiculturalism unit in a freshman class at GSU because it evokes emotion and calls attention to the universal problem of racism (not just white vs. ‘other’ racism) as well as lack of community activism. I’m a bigger fan of Clint than ever. And I’m glad he gave these young actors a break to star in this film.

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82 Andy October 27, 2009 at 4:03 pm

I thought this was a very good movie. A-minus. I enjoyed the comments posted here in rebutal to the very poor review. I still have a problem with this movie review: “Can we really all learn a lesson from a racist who’s unrepentant his whole life until the moment he turns himself into a martyr? The answer is no. It’s just ridiculous.” There were many lessons here. In the real world, we have to learn lessons from everyone, even people we don’t like. One lesson is a parallel to very recent headlines in Chicago. When you don’t have someone in a neighborhood who stands up to the bullies, thugs and gang-members, you wind up with a city like Chicago where an honor student is beaten to death a few blocks from his school in broad daylight and no one has the gonads to testify as a witness against the thugs. Those of you who can’t get beyond Walt’s racism, did you miss the other racism from almost every other character in the movie? It is so funny how it is always the white person’s racism that people notice, not all of the other blatant racism. And the ending symbolism? It is so fashionable to “hate” christian symbolism but the reality is that this is the heart of Christianity: self-sacrificial love. But most people can’t see that because they get bogged down in the imperfect people who try to live up to the ideals of Christianity. Just like movie critics and intellectuals who won’t see past the character of Walt; they can’t see past the flaws of the church to see the ideals of the Christ. This was an excellent movie. They are using this film in a multiculturalism unit in a freshman class at GSU because it evokes emotion and calls attention to the universal problem of racism (not just white vs. ‘other’ racism) as well as lack of community activism. I’m a bigger fan of Clint than ever. And I’m glad he gave these young actors a break to star in this film.

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83 Dennis November 24, 2009 at 3:47 am

Eric, gotta totally agree with you, man. I felt a lot of emotion from the storyline of this film, but every time I was getting drawn in I was kicked back into reality by the truly abysmal acting. The young priest wasn’t acting, he was reading lines. Thao was doing about the same. Even Clint’s incessant growling was so forced and fake that I couldn’t believe my eyes. For me, the bad acting basically ruined what could have been a touching, emotionally-charged movie.

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84 Dennis November 24, 2009 at 3:47 am

Eric, gotta totally agree with you, man. I felt a lot of emotion from the storyline of this film, but every time I was getting drawn in I was kicked back into reality by the truly abysmal acting. The young priest wasn’t acting, he was reading lines. Thao was doing about the same. Even Clint’s incessant growling was so forced and fake that I couldn’t believe my eyes. For me, the bad acting basically ruined what could have been a touching, emotionally-charged movie.

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85 Nikki M April 12, 2010 at 10:13 am

So I finally watched Gran Torino, and although the movie may have overused the whole “racist act”, I felt the movie needed it to initially get the point across; it also fits Eastwood’s character. Yeah the movie basically contained a few racist slurs throughout every scene, but if one were to actually look beneath all of the comments the main character Walt made, it actually would have given them a better understanding of the movie. Walt used all of his negative sayings as his “mask”, to hide his true self.

Yes the movie incorporated many of the stereotypical racial slurs that many movies contain, but I feel without them, it wouldn’t have been such a drastic act when Walt befriends the Hmong family. Showing Walt as anything but the way he was portrayed would have ruined the film. So by showing the hurtful “stereotypes” towards basically every race, it allowed one to see the true old-fashioned character Walt really was. Movies usually overuse the racial sayings in order to appeal to a certain type of audience, and although this film stated a few lines deserved to be “gasped” at, it fit the movie perfectly.

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86 Nikki M April 12, 2010 at 10:13 am

So I finally watched Gran Torino, and although the movie may have overused the whole “racist act”, I felt the movie needed it to initially get the point across; it also fits Eastwood’s character. Yeah the movie basically contained a few racist slurs throughout every scene, but if one were to actually look beneath all of the comments the main character Walt made, it actually would have given them a better understanding of the movie. Walt used all of his negative sayings as his “mask”, to hide his true self.

Yes the movie incorporated many of the stereotypical racial slurs that many movies contain, but I feel without them, it wouldn’t have been such a drastic act when Walt befriends the Hmong family. Showing Walt as anything but the way he was portrayed would have ruined the film. So by showing the hurtful “stereotypes” towards basically every race, it allowed one to see the true old-fashioned character Walt really was. Movies usually overuse the racial sayings in order to appeal to a certain type of audience, and although this film stated a few lines deserved to be “gasped” at, it fit the movie perfectly.

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87 Tracey Mann December 26, 2010 at 9:59 am

Kyle Kelley, you’re an idiot.

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