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Parents' Guide to

Gran Torino

By James Rocchi, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Eastwood drama deals with racism and other raw stuff.

Movie R 2008 100 minutes
Gran Torino Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 39 parent reviews

age 14+

Great message and teaching tool on TRUE tolerance.

We recently sat down with two of my boys (13,14) to watch this movie. In our current culture, I think this movie captures a very honest account of the complexity of man, personalities, and the way everyone wrestles with their own demons. I think the raw portrayal of Walt as a Korean War Veteran struggling with the realities of combat, his failing relationships with his kids, and the recent death of his wife offer the audience a glimpse of the true depth of a man. Walt is a tough, strong man with rough edges; but his complete and forward honesty leaves no one guessing exactly how he feels. We might wince at the way he throws around racial slurs, but he is proven to be a good man. Walt exposes the man he is behind the curtain with his courageous and sacrificial actions at the end of the movie. He stands as a role model to the impressionable Tau (his next door neighbor) and a generous father figure to both Tau and his confident sister. Tau’s sister is very similar to Walt in that she isn’t afraid to say how she feels. She is the one who lifts Walt out of his misery at first, and gives Walt a renewed sense of purpose. As soon as he sees Tau help a neighbor, his guard comes down and he realizes how he can help this young man. Walt’s ability to control his emotions and be the steady in very tense situations is what masculinity is. He doesn’t back down only uses force when necessary- and only for the good of others. Walt develops a sense of respect for his Hmong neighbors and their culture- perhaps by first forgiving himself for things he did as a soldier. One of my favorite things about this movie is the way Walt wrestles with his faith. The young priest’s relationship with Walt parallels what I believe to be Christ’s pursuit of us. Unwavering and even reckless at times. Walt’s salvation is a sticking point between the two in which Walt ultimately surrenders. This movie is an example of two people, worlds apart, finding the good in each other. How we should never write people off for what they look like, what they say, or because they think differently. Everyone is wrestling with something and we never know what it is. Perhaps that alone should allow us to be tolerant of all whom we come in contact with. Even the crotchetiest of old men, or our foreign neighbors we feel like we could never relate to might be exactly who we need in our lives; and offer us something we least expect. If this movie doesn’t touch you, you have a heart of stone. We used the language in this movie as a lesson to our boys. We talked about salvation and sacrifice; our own personal comfort and other cultures. If you are willing to talk about the language, I think this movie is fine for highschool age kids but ultimately I would reserve it for any mature teenager.
age 17+

Great movie well done good plot

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (39 ):
Kids say (53 ):

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.

Movie Details

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