**Warning -- contains spoilers**
Yes, I recognize this movie is super old. It's already on the On-Demand channel, but since I think it came out late last year (December? January?), Brian and I never got a chance to see it in the theater. (We had a movie-theater problem in January...every time we planned to see a show, some pregnancy-related problem would crop up. We must have postponed 'Frost/Nixon' five times.) He's been bugging me ever since to rent it.
So last night, after we realized we had forgotten to tape 'Top Chef: Masters' on Wednesday night, we had nothing to watch. The following is an exact transcript of our conversation:
B: Let's get a movie.
K: Okay, that sounds good. What do you want to watch?
B: [flips to On-Demand channel and highlights 'Gran Torino.' Smiles at K.]
K: Oh, I don't know. That seems a little...heavy.
B: No! It's supposed to be really good.
K: Really? Because it screams really sad to me. I'm kind of in the mood for more of a lighter film. What about 'He's Just Not That Into You'? I'm sure no one dies in that movie.
B: No one dies in this movie! It's Clint Eastwood. He'll kill a few guys and be the good guy. It'll be great.
K: I'm just in the mood for something lighter. My book is really sad; it's about a little girl with Down Syndrome.
B: Your mom saw this, right? She really liked it.
K: [pausing] Yeah, she did...she really, really liked it. Can we watch 'He's Just Not That Into You' tomorrow night, then?
B: Sure! [smiles, knowing full-well that the Dodgers play tomorrow night and it is the return of Manny Rameriz and I'll probably be passed out on the couch by 7pm.] We'll, uh, cross that bridge tomorrow night. Trust me, this movie isn't sad.
Cut to exactly 132 minutes later (the movie run time is only 116 minutes, but we had to stop four times for three bathroom breaks and one cookie break) as I sat sobbing hysterically into Brian's shoulder. Not sad? According to whom? Even Brian was apologetic, looking at me with a mixture of fear and regret.
The story follows Walt Kowalski, an aging Korean-War vet after the death of his wife and his life in a rough Detroit suburb. He's old, he's ornery, and he's a racist; he doesn't hesitate let everyone know how he feels about them, and doesn't mince words. Even the local priest at the Catholic Church (who bore an uncanny resemblemce to Brian's friend Mark from North Dakota) isn't safe to Walt's cutting words.
Walk forges an unlikely friendship with the Hmong family next door after helping the son out of a dangerous situation. When Tao (or Toad) rebuffs the local Hmong street gang's attempts to recruit him, the thugs turn against Tao and his family until Walt steps in. Walt is introduced to a new culture and finds a new kind of family among Tao and Sue (his sister) and their many relatives.
Sounds happy and cheery, huh? Not really. Walt is dying but can't find it in himself to tell his distant, self-involved family. When the gang violence escalates to a point that Sue is violently assaulted, Walt takes it upon himself to end the situation, and you can imagine where this is headed. The last thirty minutes of the movie plays out like a bad dream, with Walt making preparations to not only help Tao, but also redeem his 'soiled' self in the process.
There are all kinds of important themes in the movie, but I'm too tired and too fuzzy to even begin exploring them. All I could think about was the years of counseling Sue would require after her assault. Brian tried to cheer me up by saying the thugs would be locked away forever, until I replied, 'Nah. They'll get some scumbag lawyer who will cop a plea deal with the DA and they'll be back on the streets within a year or two. Not to mention, think of the hybrid gangs that will crop up in response to the other guys' arrests. The violence will only escalate.'
Needless to say, I think I get to pick the movie next time.
Grade: B+, but only if you are in the *right* mood.
**Warning -- contains spoilers**
Think of this as the epilogue to Bridget Jones' story. Well, mostly. Bridget marries the handsome lawyer, starts a blog while on bedrest, and decides marathon running sounds like fun. Hilarity ensues.