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2 reviews, 4 user ratings

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Trouble with the Curve
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by William Goss

"Baseball Diamonds Are a Codger's Best Friend"
3 stars

I suppose it was bound to happen one of these days. In 'Trouble with the Curve,' Clint Eastwood finally finds himself playing a literal grumpy Gus.

As usual, he’s contending with the burdens of old age: urinary difficulties, mild blindness, violent allergies to any and all technologies. There’s little good in having a gut-trusting baseball scout who can’t see the game, though, and the higher-ups at the Atlanta Braves -- Moneyball types embodied by the smarmy likes of Matthew Lillard -- have to wonder out loud whether or not these remaining three months on Gus’ contract ought to be his last. Old buddy Pete (John Goodman) would rather not see it go down like that, and so he enlists the help of Gus’ daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), imploring her to hit the road with her old man and help him out a bit. Of course, she’s the smoothie-sipping opposite of her cigar-chomping pop, still wrestling with abandonment issues, and naturally, she’s reluctant to leave town due to the Big Case that should see her made partner at the law firm. But she gives in, and wouldn’t you know it, Gus happens to have an age-appropriate friend in Red Sox scout Johnny (Justin Timberlake)...

Marking Eastwood’s first role since 2008’s Gran Torino, and his first time acting under a director who wasn’t himself since 1993’s In the Line of Fire, the directorial debut of Robert Lorenz (a producing partner of Eastwood’s and a second unit director under him who can clearly fashion a sturdy picture of his own) would be defined by its utter inability to surprise viewers if that even remotely seemed to be on its agenda. Randy Brown’s screenplay doesn’t serve up anything in its last ten minutes that isn’t telegraphed from the first ten -- when the down-trodden Hispanic kid pitches a bag of peanuts to the smug hot shot (Joe Massingill) that every scout has their eye on, it’s impossible to ignore which of the two will come out on top -- but that’s almost besides the point. Curve unfolds in a comfortable world of greasy spoon diners and honky-tonk bars, outside of which characters always park their classic convertibles, only to find themselves interrupted by the bother of plot and conflict. It’s a noble back-to-basics notion further hammered in by the reliable scumminess of big city lawyers and computer whizzes alike.

However, when the stakes are low and the heart is high, the film basically works, with this cast of pros young and old often earning the emotion that is otherwise thrust upon the audience in no uncertain terms. Eastwood has his growls and pride down pat, but he and Adams find a nice, mutually stubborn give-and-take as she rekindles the cheap-seats glory days of her youth before making efforts to uncover the real reasons behind Gus’ shirking of his parental responsibilities. Clint gives good heartache in return, although the nature of What Really Happened is needlessly teased out in vague flashbacks, and even when Gus is given to maudlin gestures like singing “You Are My Sunshine” to his wife’s grave, the veteran actor finds some scrap of truth to the moment. Timberlake gets to turn on his established charms when serving as inevitable love interest to Adams’ workaholic, although a more interesting (or interested) film could have made a more potent thread out of Johnny serving as something of a surrogate son to Gus, either what he really wanted out of Mickey or as a second chance to get it right after failing her.

This is usually the part when anyone else will trot out a clever baseball simile with which to close things out, but as something of an admitted sports simpleton, let me fall back on the classic food metaphor instead: 'Trouble with the Curve' is a decent piece of apple pie that might have only been better had someone not melted a big slice of American cheese all over it.

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originally posted: 09/21/12 06:17:09
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User Comments

8/27/20 Jack Sommersby The always-welcome Eastwood singlehandedly saves it. 3 stars
9/19/13 Charles Tatum Comfortable effort, nice cast and direction 4 stars
1/06/13 mr.mike Underwhelming effort from Eastwood. 3 stars
9/28/12 George Beist Clint and Amy worked perfect together. Loved Clint 4 stars
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  21-Sep-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Dec-2012


  DVD: 18-Dec-2012

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