Beyond Self-Parody

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

Gran Torino - Movie PosterGRAN TORINO is the latest film directed by Clint Eastwood, he also stars in it, and he has said that it might be his final acting job.

That would be a shame, because it doesn’t represent his best acting work, nor does it show his best directing, either.

Clint plays Walt Kowalski, and the film opens at the church ceremony for the funeral of his wife, Dorothy. Walt is clearly uncomfortable, and he also makes it obvious that he doesn’t approve of the way his teenage granddaughter dresses and acts.

However, one of his sons says something to the other one that gives us an insight into Walt. He says, “There’s nothing anyone can do that won’t disappoint the Old Man.”

Walt is retired, after having worked for the Ford Motor Co. for 50 years, and his prize possession is a 1972 Gran Torino, which he tells people he even helped assemble. He doesn’t drive it, but keeps it clean and pristine in his garage.

I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that 1972 was also the year that DIRTY HARRY was released, and later we will see Walt use some mannerisms that an old, retired Dirty Harry Callahan might use.

Walt lives in the same Detroit neighborhood that he and Dorothy always lived in, only now it is almost unrecognizable with the influx of immigrants.
A family of Hmong people live in the house next door, and Walt reluctantly gets to know them better.

One night he catches their teenage son, Thao, trying to steal the Gran Torino out of Walt’s garage, which was to be the initiation requirement for Thao to get into the gang his cousin runs with.

When the gang tries to take off with Thao, Walt points his rifle at them and actually says, “Get off my lawn!”

However, Thao was being forced to join the gang, and when Walt prevents it, Thao’s family bring Walt food and flowers out of appreciation, which Walt doesn’t approve of one bit.

Walt becomes a hero in the neighborhood, and Thao is sent to Walt to work off the debt he now owes Walt.

Whatever humor is in the film is Walt teaching Thao how to be a man like him.

GRAN TORINO has loose directing, poor acting, not very good writing, and sinks to beyond self-parody.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”