Review: Trouble With The Curve
PLOT: Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) is an ageing baseball scout, with bad eyes and no patience for his new tech savvy bosses at the Atlanta Braves. Worried that he'll screw up with the top draft pick, his supervisor, Pete (John Goodman) enlists Gus's daughter Mickey (Amy Adams)- a high powered attorney on the verge of making partner, to shadow him. While on the road, the two try to patch up their rocky relationship, while Mickey falls for a younger scout, Johnny (Justin Timberlake) who reawakens her innate love of the game.
REVIEW: TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE marks the first time in nineteen years (since IN THE LINE OF FIRE) that Clint Eastwood's acted in a film he didn't direct. While still a Malpaso production- chockfull of Eastwood's regular tech crew (editing by Joel Cox, cinematography by Tom Stern, etc), director Robert Lorenz (who's worked as a producer/assistant director under Clint for years) gives it different, possibly lighter vibe than we'd normally see in an Eastwood film.
While having the eighty-two year old Eastwood in the lead probably has folks whispering “Oscar nomination”, CURVE doesn't really feel like that kind of film. Rather it's a very light drama/ mild comedy with a commercial, feel-good vibe- making this like GRAN TORINO's family friendly cousin. Eastwood slips right back into his go-to crotchety old man schtick, which he seems to delight in. CURVE opens with him struggling to take a leak (alas- the pee just won't come), and any movie that features Eastwood swearing at his crotch can't be half bad (give Eastwood credit for poking fun at his own image).
Alas, the film isn't called “Trouble With The Pee”, and it turns out Gus has even bigger problems with his eyes, suffering from macular degeneration. A stubborn old coot, Gus insists on doing everything himself, being a menace behind the wheel, and hiding a pair of spectacles whenever he visits the ballpark. His relationship with his daughter is at it's lowest ebb, and casting Adams in the role is an interesting contrast, as I couldn't think of two people that seem like a less natural pair than those two. He's old and grumpy, she's young and warm (although they initially try to make her seem less so)- and the contrast works, and lends to some solid chemistry.
Clint- who, to put it kindly, doesn't always do comedy that well (although Clyde the Orangutan would disagree), is really good as the lovable old coot. He even gives us a few flashes of the old, bad-ass Clint, such as when he threatens to cut off a rowdy bar patron's face with a broken beer bottle (although a flashback that uses stock footage for DIRTY HARRY feels tacked-on and silly). Adams continues her winning streak, making the transition from bitchy lawyer to compassionate baseball enthusiast seem natural. Justin Timberlake, certainly another actor that's a major contrast to Clint, proves himself once again as the friendly ex-pitcher, turned scout with a thing for Adams (who can blame him?). Matthew Lillard, on the comeback trail after THE DESCENDANTS, plays Eastwood's nominal nemesis- a new suit at the Braves who puts most of his faith in computers (is CURVE the anti-MONEYBALL?)
In the end, TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE is pretty predictable (one look at the humble peanut salesman with the golden arm promises a third act twist), and hardly the type of film that will knock your socks off. But- it's also very entertaining in a low-key, pleasant kind of way, and it's certainly well-worth seeing if you're a Clint fan (as I assume everyone is who's reading this is).