"Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn't have f---ed with? That's me."--Walt Kowalski, played by Clint Eastwood
Eric, Rob, and I went to see "Gran Torino" last night, and it was great. Clint Eastwood didn't quite play Dirty Harry, but his Korean War veteran/Ford factory worker came pretty close, at least for a while. Using virtually every racial slur ever spoken (except one), Kowalski is a holdout in a Michigan community (looked like Detroit to me) where he is surrounded by Hmong and other minority neighbors. He reminded me a lot of my grandfather. He had a garage full of tools, a house full of memories, and no tolerance for youngsters and their collective lack of manners and respect. When Walt rescues the neighbor boy from some Hmong gangbangers, Kowalski finds himself an uncomfortable hero to the locals. Recently widowered, Kowalski starts to take a paternal interest in the kids next door. If it hadn't been for his constant, continued racial slurs he would have been a great grandpa for them. Walt quickly finds himself over his head, however, as the violence and threats against the kids escalates. He has no idea what he's going to do to get them out of the situation and give them a hopeful future.
I won't spoil the movie, but I give Eastwood credit for surprising me. He passed up opportunity after opportunity to hit cliches and left them behind. I love it when directors do that. As Rob said, I probably could have done with his singing over the end credits, though.