This has the potential to be my favorite movie of all time. Clint Eastwood writes and directs this movie, in which he is a sour old Korean-War Vet. He lives in a “mixed” lower-middle class suburb. The story begins at Walt Kowalski’s wife’s funeral. Walt stands there as the priest rambles on about life and death, all while growling at his two sons and their respective families. One of his grandson’s is wearing a Detroit Lions football jersey to this funeral. As I watch in the audience, I begin to growl angrily in a manner similar to Kowalski’s. His granddaughter shows up with multiple piercings, wearing some whore dress she bought at limited too, playing with her sidekick cell phone. At this point, my growling has increased, sounding comparable to an angry dog. Kowalski’s family is utter crap, and at the reception after the funeral, they clearly want to leave, but not before trying to approach Kowalski about inheritance plans. How friggin rude?! “I was wondering, when you die, could I have your pristeen ‘1972 Gran Torino…and also that cool retro couch would like great in my dorm at State next year. I have like totally no furniture!” Kowalski growls and lumbers into the next room.
That’s your introduction to his character.
Next door lives a Mong family (they’re from China or Thailand or something). The teenaged children, Su and Tao are both picked on by a mong gang led by their cousin. The gang tries to get physical with Su and Tao, accidentally moving their rumble to the neighbor’s lawn. Enter Walt Kowalski. He shows up and puts his gun right in a gangmember’s face. “Get off my lawn…”
The gang retreats, but not before promising retribution. Su is greatful but Kowalski repeats the same mantra to her: “Get off my lawn.”
I won’t ruin the rest of the story, but Walt Kowalski is racist, and excessively so. If you’re a nationality, he’s got 6 dirty words designed especially for you. For PC college girls who think Free Speech is a myth, Kowalski has one request: “Fuck yourself”. Amen.
Despite being racist, especially towards Asians, he observes that he has more in common with these strange neighbors than he does his own ingrate family. His heart slowly warms to them, and he takes the family’s children under his wing.
I can’t say much more about this movie other than this: Eastwood scored the trifecta: excellent writing, excellent directing, and of course excellent acting in a role that was made for Clint and Clint alone. The characters are for the most part realistic (with Walt being a bit too huge of a character, but with the audience accepting it), and the super secret surpise ending leaves anyone who came in pessimistically expecting a “typical Clint Eastwood movie” pleasantly flabbergasted.
A lot of “lol” moments, and quite a few heart touching ones.
We’ll see how I feel in a year or so, but this film has usurped The Crow (for now) as my favorite film.
In case you’re wondering, this is how my favorite films stack up: