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June 2009
Gran Torino

by Kam Williams

Gran Torino DVD Review

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay: Nick Schenk
Cinematography: Tom Stern
Music: Kyle Eastwood
Running Length: 1:55
MPAA Classification: R (Profanity, Violence)
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for pervasive profanity, ethnic slurs and violence.
Running time: 117 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: Two featurettes: "Manning the Wheel" and "Gran Torino: More Than a Car."


Recently-widowed Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) has a big set of gonads for the last white guy still living in a Detroit neighborhood now overrun with Asians, Latinos and blacks. After all, the grizzled geezer is in mourning and emotionally-estranged from his sons, Mitch (Brian Haley) and Steve (Brian Howe), who would like to relocate their dad to a retirement community.

Nonetheless, Walt wants to remain in the increasingly-lawless community. But rather than make the acquaintance of any of his neighbors, the gun-toting Korean War vet would rather roam around town like a geriatric Dirty Harry, daring troublemaking knuckleheads to make his day.

For he loves to talk trash, being especially fond of hurling expletives and ethnic slurs at members of every minority group.

He proves to be particularly imaginative when it comes to epithets for the Asian family who moved in next-door, referring to them as everything from "gooks" to "zipperheads" to "rice niggers" to "chinks" to "nips" to "eggrolls" to "barbarians" to "fish heads" to "swamp rats" to "slope heads." Needless to say, Walt is utterly unlikable, at least until the fateful day that a juvenile delinquent (Bee Vang) tries to steal his classic muscle car as part of a gang initiation. Instead of shooting the thief when he catches him in the act, Walt decides to take pity on the kid in dire need of intervention.

Unfortunately, the transition he subsequently makes from racist misanthrope into an altruistic father figure is simply unconvincing. That's not good news for this maudlin Motor City melodrama, which is recommended only if you want to see Clint Eastwood uttering a profusion of offensive and profane language, like a senile old coot suffering from adult onset Tourette's Syndrome.

Otherwise, this cross of 8-Mile and Death Wish looks terribly dated, like the desperate last gasp of pre-Obama Era intolerance.