Gran Torino Movie Poster Image

Gran Torino

Eastwood drama deals with racism and other raw stuff.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


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.


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.


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).


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.

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.

What's the story?

In GRAN TORINO, Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a retired Korean War veteran shattered by his wife's recent death. Walt is a harsh, ramrod-straight man with a quick temper and high standards whose greatest joy is an orderly home and his beloved, mint-condition Gran Torino. When a clash between the quiet teen boy next door and the local Asian gangs spills onto Walt's property after the gang coerces the boy into trying to steal the car, Walt faces them down with his trusty M-1 rifle ... and becomes a hero to the local Hmongs who have slowly filled his neighborhood in the past few years. As Walt mentors the boy, Thao (Bee Vang), and becomes a gruff father figure, he also becomes closer to sassy older sister Sue (Ahney Her) -- and a threat to the gangs who live in the area and want to punish Walt, Thao, and Sue for standing up to them.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's message. Is it clear that it's ultimately about tolerance?

  • What does Walt learn during the movie? How can that be applied as a broader lesson?

  • Parents, ask your teens how hearing all of the racist language in the movie makes them feel -- does it help expose and undermine stereotypes, or is it offensive?

  • How does Walt change over the course of the movie? Do you think the ending is realistic? Did Walt make the right choice? Also, are his acts of self-defense to protect his home, his car, and his neighbors justifiable?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 12, 2008
DVD/Streaming release date:June 9, 2009
Cast:Ahney Her, Bee Vang, Clint Eastwood
Director:Clint Eastwood
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language throughout, and some violence

This review of Gran Torino was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 15 years old Written byChambear August 5, 2009
Gran Torino starring Clint Eastwood, is a film about a Polish Korean War veteran who is hates the Hmong neighbors. But over time develops relationships with his neighbors. This movie only has strong language (Mostly when we see the gangs) and some non-graphic violence and a scene where we briefly see non-graphic pornography. This is a great film for 13+!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byemdash October 18, 2010
I am over 25 and thought it was too violent. I felt the post rape seen was very graphic. Even though they did not show the actual crime, the very graphic imagery was very upsetting. I would not recommend this movie for kids or grow ups. This movie would be especially bad for anyone who has PTSD relating to sex crimes.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 12 year old Written byanduril March 6, 2010

loads of talks afterwards

What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models