Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gran Torino

I just finished watching Gran Torino (I know... I'm a little late) and I would have to say that I am very underwhelmed. Perhaps my expectations were undeservedly high (It got four stars, I heard good things from other people who saw it and I recently re-watched The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), but I would have given the film a less than spectacular review regardless of the hype. Overall, I feel that Gran Torino is a film that set lofty goals for itself and then failed to meet these standards. While I could nitpick about stuff for days, what bugged me the most was the crappy dialogue, the sub par acting and the unbelievable storyline. (I know those are pretty sucky names for a categories, but Gran Torino was a pretty sucky movie so I guess they fit).

In terms of dialogue, I feel like this movie really abused it's 'R' rating. the fact that there are no restrictions on the language that's used doesn't justify making every single word in the script offensive. This movie reminded me of a clown car, but instead of trying to stuff men with wigs and makeup inside of a Volkswagen, the writers attempted to fit the maximum amount of racial slurs and epithets into a two hour window. While I understand the fact that Clint Eastwood's character is a stubborn, prejudiced old man, it seems a little ridiculous that every other word he says is an insult. I thought people were supposed to be friendly and wise when they got old, but it seems like time has only turned Walter Kowalski into a potty-mouthed prick.

Even if the dialogue in Gran Torino had been halfway decent (I mean that in terms of both quality and content), it probably wouldn't have helped much because the horrible acting would have masked any flashes of brilliance from the writers. Apart from Clint Eastwood, who was pretty convincing as a scowling old bastard (I think he had the same angry scowl for at least 90% of the movie. I wonder if he made that face when he was little and it just stayed that way), most of the cast members seemed to half-heartedly stumble through their lines. What's even worse is that the actors with the most screen time were probably the least talented people in the cast (actually, it's not fair to say that they're not talented... maybe they'll get better with age). I would describe the performance the boy who plays Thao as a combination of Ben Stein (Bueller, Bueller) and a shy robot. I'm pretty sure a tired fourth grader sightreading lines off a teleprompter could have delivered the lines with more passion and eloquence than he did. Anyway, it kind of ruins the movie when the actors aren't good at their jobs.

Apart from the writing and acting, the thing that annoyed me the most Gran Torino was the riddiculous plot. I don't know if aging action heroes are a new fad or something, but Walter Kowalski's brand of geriatric justice seems a little far fetched to me. I just find it a kind of hard to believe that making finger signs, barking orders and grimacing would really strike fear into the hearts of the local gang members (I think violent criminals start to lose respect for you when you have as many wrinkles on your neck as you do on your forehead). Even the parts where he actually shows shows his real guns are less than impressive when you actually think about them. In one of the scenes, it shows Thao and Sue's cousin with some kind of machine gun thing. I'm sure that he or one of his homies could have unloaded half a clip before Walt's old arthritic fingers even grasped the handle of his gun. The odds are definately against our aging hero in these circumstances. You can say that I'm over-analyzing this or that I'm not getting the big picture, but I'm just not buying the idea that an ornery old man can intimidate gang members with cheesy tactics, befriend teenagers with racial slurs and somehow become a beloved martyr.

Thanks for reading this excessively long movie review. I hope that you were able to gain something from reading that other than the knowledge that I have some pent up frustration and a lot of free time. Honestly, I think you should take my reviews with a grain of salt. this was just my opinion and the only way to really know if Gran Torino is any good is to see it for yourself. Anyway, happy Holidays, folks!

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