Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thoughts on the film: Gran Torino

I saw this movie one time where a cranky old man who was miserable and hated everybody learned to love again thanks to his efforts to save a young boy in need of guidance. It was called Bad Santa and it was awesome.

Gran Torino, you are no Bad Santa.

I love Clint Eastwood. He's done some incredible work in the past and he's always fun to watch on screen, and when I was looking for a director to emulate on my first time out, he was the one I chose. But that doesn't mean that Gran Torino is a good film.

Aside from being incredibly on-the-nose, it's simply not believable. The whole plot spins on the premise that these Korean American guys who all live in the same house and ride in the same car desperately want this one boy to join their tiny gang. But there's never really an explanation as to why, they just do.

In reality if you don't want to join a gang, guess what? You don't join a gang. They might still rob you and they might beat you up if you get in their way, but gang members don't force you into their club if you don't want to be there.

On top of that, Eastwood's old man character, Walt, suddenly decides to take this Korean kid under his wing and teach him to be a man. Why? Because the kid did some chores at his house. Walt doesn't have a close relationship with his own sons, but somehow when this Korean kid cleans his gutters, magic happens.

Everything in this film feels forced. It's like the idea was, hey let's put an ornery old Clint Eastwood in a position where he can save a helpless Korean boy. Now how can we make sure that happens? I don't feel like the theme came from the story, I feel like the story was created to force the theme. And Bee Vang, the Korean kid, is not very talented in his first acting role. He overacts the entire film.

I honestly cannot understand why this film has gotten so many positive reviews. Quite frankly I think it's terrible. The pace is slow, the dialogue is strained, the racial issues are way too obvious.

I will give it one credit. It succeeds as a comedy. The jokes are good and I laughed several times because Clint knows how to play up the ornery old man persona he's been perfecting for the last couple of decades. But a few good jokes don't make up for a weak story.

There are a lot of similar elements to this film in Fear of Clowns, and the one thing I'm the most afraid of with my script is that it will be too on the nose and unrealistic. So I have to do some serious thinking about where I want to go with this script to avoid the mistakes in Gran Torino.


  1. Anonymous8:04 PM

    Well, I knew how it was going to end--which annoys me, because I want to be surprised.


    My favorite thing about Gran Torino is that the film is exactly as the script was written. That I really like.

  2. Anonymous12:30 AM

    What did you expect?

    This movie was intended to be about an ornery geezer who is too old for his age. Clint Eastwood isn't exactly know for his range of acting skills. The blatant fearlessness and racism of Eastwood's character made this story especially entertaining and everyone I've talked to agrees this was simply a great story.

    I'm sorry the acting wasn't real enough for you, let alone the dialogue constrained, after all half the characters do not know English. Next time you view the film, avoid looking into Tao's eyes, its disrespectful.

    Paul S.

  3. What I've heard:
    Clint Eastwood was great.
    Everyone else sucked.
    It's the closest thing to another Dirty Harry movie we'll get.

    So people wanted to see what amounts to Clint doing a Dirty Harry type character.

    Everyone else wasn't good because this is their first time on camera.

    I think most of the money went above the line. Clint (actor-director-producer) Eastwood for example. I can't say that it's bad, because a crew got paid, it was good for the local economy, and it's something to watch (though I'll catch it on DVD). And it looks like it'll make back it's investment (though it probably never will by way of Hollywood Accounting).

  4. I can't completely explain why, but I liked this film. The acting by the priest, and the brother and sister (don't know their names) was God awfu.

    It was obvious. It was silly. It was a lot of B-movie fun. I don't think Eastwood was aiming for his Million Dollar Baby audience here. This was strictly a politically incorrect drama/comedy that kept me entertained.


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