I caught the other yellow lab movie last night, AKA "Gran Torino." Clint Eastwood plays a crusty but ultimately lovable curmudgeon, Korean War veteran, retired Ford auto worker, spewer of politically incorrect ethnic rhetoric, and last European American White guy left on the block (he's Polish American). Oh, and he owns an aging yellow lab named Daisy.
Much of the film plays like an after-school special version of racial healing, but I give it kudos for introducing us to the Hmong culture ("a people, not a country" as spunky Hmong teenager/next door neighbor Sue Lor corrects Clint, a people who sided with the Americans in Viet Nam and who had to flee with the Americans with the fall of Saigon, these particular Hmongs winding up in Detroit courtesy of Lutheran charity).
With the exception of Sue Lor ( Ahney Her) the acting is spotty (Clint's direction or inexperienced actors?). The subplot with the earnest and naive local Catholic parish priest goes nowhere and compared with a powerhouse film like "Doubt" suffers immensely in comparison.
Some critics have complained that Eastwood's character is profligate with the ethnic slurs yet he assiduously avoids using the 'N' word. I am not among them. Eastwood's real-life son Scott plays a hip-hop loving dilettante loser whom Clint's character takes apparent delight in excoriating in their scene together.
Don't get me wrong: its a good movie and worth watching on a number of levels. Still its a flawed film which is being hyped as though it were Eastwood's swan song. As an Eastwood fan since his Rowdy Yates days on TVs "Rawhide," I prefer to hope that he has many more films in him.
The film's theme song BTW was co-written by Eastwood's son Kyle. The song was nominated for a Golden Globe and Clint manages to croak out the first verse over the closing credits (shades of his "Paint Your Wagon" warbling). Not a bad song when song by the pros.
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