Review: Trouble with the Curve

— by ADAM DALE —

To most people, the name Clint Eastwood commands either nostalgia, or a feeling of old Hollywood talent. Those over a certain age see him as “Dirty Harry” or The Man with No Name, while those under the age of 30 probably see him as a man who is grumpy in every film (and political convention) of which he has been a part.

Eastwood has been in five films in the past 12 years and every one of his roles has been similar in tone — a grumpy old man. Yes, each role was specific and had different motivations behind it, but all were more or less cantankerous in nature. His new film, “Trouble with the Curve,” directed by Robert Lorenz and co-starring Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake doesn’t try to go against his typecasting as of late, but embraces it and honestly I find his grumpy characters quite funny.

In “Trouble with the Curve,” Gus (Clint Eastwood) is an aging talent scout for the Atlanta Braves. Old school in his methods, he relies on his instincts instead of computer programs and this seems to be putting him under some serious attention by younger scouts who think it is time for him to retire and leave the game to the more youthful.

One particularly nasty fellow scout is a number cruncher, Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard), who is using every opportunity to convince the team’s manager Vince (Robert Patrick) that it’s time to put Gus out to pasture. Luckily for Gus, his longtime friend and co-worker, Pete Klein (John Goodman), gives him the head’s up and is concerned with his change in behavior lately. What nobody knows is that Gus is having trouble with his vision and he even learns from his optometrist that he has macular degeneration in his eyes and they will only get worse.

Gus has a very successful daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), who is a lawyer and is in line for a partnership. She reluctantly decides to follow her dad on his latest road trip to scout a phenomenal hitter named Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill), when she learns of her father’s condition. A very reluctant Gus eventually accepts his daughter’s help and while on this scouting trip, they run into Johnny (Justin Timberlake), a player Gus scouted a few years back. Due to an arm injury, Johnny has become a baseball scout as well and he is on his way toward his dream job of being an announcer for the major leagues.

While Johnny and Mickey begin to connect, so do Mickey and Gus as he slowly lowers his gruff exterior and eventually have a genuine heart to heart. They question how long Gus will be able to keep his employer in the dark about his vision impairment and whether he will have a job in the near future.

While “Trouble with the Curve” isn’t the best sports movie, it is enough to showcase Eastwood and remind all of us the reason he has been a star for so long. What the film lacks in compelling sports moments it more than makes up for with a compelling story about relationships and heart.

Adams and Eastwood are a great pairing, both mimicking the other in the stubbornness department making it completely believable that they are related. Timberlake makes the best of a one-note character and has great chemistry with Adams. There is a large list of supporting cast members and each one gives something to the film, whether it is laughs or some drama. Some of the ones who stood out to me were George Wyner, Matt Bush, Rickey Muse, Chelcie Ross, Ed Lauter and Raymond Anthony Thomas.

The film is beautifully shot and seems to give a very realistic portrayal of the unglamorous lifestyle scouts have, including less-than-stellar motels, run-down diners and sitting in the sun in bleachers all day long. Eastwood’s character, however, loves his life and was made for it, but as the movie goes on he realizes how much he missed of his daughter’s life. There are also strong themes of family, redemption, connections, priorities and finding what you love and this dramatic comedy has some sweet and touching moments filled with emotion and joy.

While the film won’t be winning any Academy Awards like 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby” did, it is light and fun enough to entertain fans of the star ensemble cast and others as well. If any of this sounds good to you, head out to your local theater and check out “Trouble with the Curve.”

“Trouble with the Curve” is in theaters now and is rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, thematic material and smoking.

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