Gran Torino parents guide

Gran Torino Parent Guide

This story comes with many positive elements, but these messages are accompanied by content that makes this film a heavy entertainment option, even for adults.

Overall C+

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a Korean War vet growing older and grumpier with each passing day. So when his young Asian neighbor (Bee Vang), who is involved with a street gang, tries to steal his 1972 Gran Torino, he responds with gun threats. While Walt isn't surprised that this declaration of war makes him an enemy of the local hoodlums, he isn't prepared for the hero's praise he receives from the family next door. Suddenly the man is forced to face prejudices that pre-date his prized car.

Release date December 8, 2008

Violence D+
Sexual Content B-
Profanity D+
Substance Use C-

Why is Gran Torino rated R? The MPAA rated Gran Torino R for language throughout, and some violence.

Run Time: 117 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

This week, in the city where I live, an innocent man was gunned down outside a local diner, the victim of an escalating gang war plaguing our streets and many others around the world. Since that horrific day, the ammunition has continued to fly even as police search for a way to protect everyday citizens.

In an example of art reflecting reality, the movie Gran Torino showcases another neighborhood under attack. While the teen characters in the film and Clint Eastwood’s no-nonsense attitude toward gangs may appeal to younger viewers, the script contains dozens of uses of the extreme sexual expletive, both in a sexual and non-sexual context, as well as pervasive profanities and derogatory ethnic slurs. Fistfights and weapon violence also break out as Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), an aging Korean War veteran, confronts the gangbangers encroaching on his Mid-Western town.

Over the years, Walt has watched the color and culture of his locality change. Hmong refugees have settled into the homes on his street as more and more of the old population passes away or leaves. His aversion to these new residents is obvious, yet the families tolerate his derogatory comments and churlish stares with polite indifference.

But the caustic, foul-mouthed widower (who has no intention of hiding his prejudice) is moved to action when a carload of Asian gang members rough up the boy next door. Though Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang) wants nothing to do with his cousin’s (Doua Moua) crime ring, his refusal to join them results in a malicious front yard beating in spite of Thao’s sister’s (Ahney Her) attempts to intervene. However, the attack quickly dissolves when Walt points a high-powered rifle at the instigators. His intercession makes the surly Caucasian a hero to the other quiet immigrants on the street. It also pinpoints him as a target for the gun-toting mob.

While the story could easily have spiraled into a continuous barrage of bullets, Eastwood, who also produced and directed the film, creates a moving, insightful look into the reality of a changing ethnic landscape. His character, mourning the loss of his wife and estranged relationships with his children, lives a morose and empty life that he’s created for himself. Even the neighborhood’s young priest (Christopher Carley) is rebuffed when he attempts to befriend the old man after his wife’s funeral. Still, redemption comes to the calloused soul when he reluctantly agrees to let the battered young immigrant work for him as repayment for trying to steal his prized car—a 1972 Gran Torino. Luckily Eastwood pulls off the reformation without losing the edge to his character.

This story comes with many positive elements, including the depictions of religious leaders, community involvement, and the power of individuals to influence the lives of others. Yet these messages are accompanied by a battery of vulgarities, brutal beatings, the discussion of a rape and the portrayal of a bullet-riddled body that make this film a heavy entertainment option—even for adults.

Starring Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang.. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release December 8, 2008. Updated

Gran Torino
Rating & Content Info

Why is Gran Torino rated R? Gran Torino is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, and some violence.

The film’s script contains a continuous stream of strong sexual expletives (some used in a sexual context) and derogatory racial slurs along with profanities, scatological slang, crude sexual language and terms of Christian Deity. Various gangs threaten individuals. A young man is burned on the face with a cigarette. A female character is raped and beaten (though the crime takes place off screen, her bruised and bloody body is seen). Other characters are pummeled, shot at and threatened (some blood is depicted). One man is shot repeatedly in the chest. A page from a pornographic magazine is briefly shown (no nudity and limited details are seen). Some scenes of crude sexual innuendo are portrayed along with frequent depictions of drinking, smoking and other tobacco use (including a teen smoking). The horrors of war are also briefly discussed.

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Gran Torino Parents' Guide

Walt’s neighborhood is made up of many immigrants including Walt’s own family, who have a Polish ancestry, and his Irish barber. Does Walt take that into consideration when he forms an opinion about the new arrivals on his street? Why is it easy to judge all people from a specific race, ethnic group or religious denomination as being the same? Why is this a dangerous assumption?

What has hindered Walt’s relationship with his children? How does that change with Thao and Sue?

What challenges do immigrants face? What kinds of programs or involvement from local citizens can lessen the difficulty for new arrivals?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Gran Torino movie is June 9, 2009. Here are some details…

Release Date: 9 June 2009

Gran Torino races onto DVD in either full frame or widescreen presentations. Either version also offers two featurettes: Manning the Wheel and Gran Torino: More Than a Car.

Gran Torino is also driving onto Blu-ray. This 2-disc edition presents the movie in widescreen. Bonus extras includes four featurettes (Behind the Story, The Eastwood Way, Manning the Wheel and Gran Torino: More Than a Car), along with BD Live.

Related home video titles:

Mob members put pressure on a young Irish boxer to make him conform to their rules in the classic film On the Waterfront. Believing the pen is mightier than any weapon, a teacher uses journaling as a way to help inner-city, at-risk students make sense of their lives in Freedom Writers.