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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film is a complex, often uncomfortable look at racism -- and, ultimately, tolerance/acceptance. Walt eventually comes to know (and respect) the Hmong immigrants who've moved into his neighborhood, but it takes a lot of racist and culturally insensitive language and behavior to reach that point.
Positive Role Models
Walt, while ultimately motivated by loyalty and friendship, is hardly a shining role model. He's rude, racist, crabby, and incredibly insensitive. He refers to his parish priest as "an over-educated 27-year-old virgin" who "peddles superstition." Many of the film's Asian, Latino, and African-American characters are portrayed as gang members and criminals, though others are presented as hardworking and responsible.
Violence & Scariness
Occasional brutal, realistic violence, including beatings, shootings, and more. A character is shot repeatedly. Several supporting characters are beaten. A supporting character is seen after being beaten and raped (the incident itself isn't shown). Discussion of violence in wartime. A character has a terminal illness.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A brief scene includes glimpses of magazine images of nude/partially clothed women. Some discussion of dating and romance from the blunt perspective of an older man.
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Strong language throughout, including "f--k," "g---dammit," "s--t," "bitch," "prick, "balls," and more. Also nonstop racist language aimed at Asian Americans ("gook," "swamp rats," "zipperheads," "slopes," "chinks," "fishheads," and more), African Americans ("spooks," the "N" word, and more), Irish Americans ("Micks" and more), Polish Americans ("Polacks"), homosexuals ("gay"), Jews, and Italian Americans ("Dagos" and more).
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Products & Purchases
Mentions of some commercial brands, including the titlular Ford car, Land Cruiser, WD-40 lubricant, and more; Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans are visible on screen.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke and chew tobacco and drink beer and hard liquor. Teen smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that even though this drama is about a prejudiced character coming to know and accept people of another race, it's loaded with racial invective and harsh racist language aimed at a broad spectrum of groups. Star Clint Eastwood's character isn't much of a role model, either -- unrepentantly grumpy, smoking, and drinking throughout the film -- and while he ultimately learns to respect some of his Asian neighbors, many other Asian characters (and some African American and Latino ones) are depicted as gang members and criminals. The movie is also remarkably violent in spots, with bloody beatings and brutal shootings depicted realistically and unflinchingly. All of that said, the underlying message is one of acceptance and understanding. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Gran Torino, which Eastwood has said will mark his last acting role, succeeds in many areas while falling flat in others. It's not a grand farewell, but it is a good, solid drama about understanding, repentance, tolerance, and change. Eastwood directs with his usual understated mastery; the film looks terrific, and Eastwood gets good performances out of his supporting cast. Regrettably, the same can't be said for Eastwood's own performance; his work as Walt is a little flat and obvious. Even when Walt is at his most angry and bitter, we're still comforted by Eastwood's familiar manner and way, as if he's too much of a star these days to truly be an actor, too much of an icon to inhabit a role.
Gran Torino does get points for trying to talk about race and class at a time when too many mainstream films ignore and shun tackling such tough real-world concerns. Walt does come to know, understand, and like some of his Hmong neighbors; he also gets to know, dislike, and understand the local Asian gang. But Gran Torino includes a few too many dramatic coincidences to be truly satisfying, and the film's dramatic tone and tenor means that those who come to it looking for a straightforward action drama may be bored by the talky parts -- and those who come to it looking for a high-minded drama may be put off by the gritty violence and blunt language. Gran Torino is a well-made, somewhat pedestrian film by a Hollywood legend; at the same time, it's hard to imagine it receiving as much interest and acclaim if Eastwood wasn't involved.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.