Thursday, September 27, 2012


Rated:  PG-13

Stars: Clint Eastwood,  Amy Adams,  Justin Timberlake,  John Goodman
Director: Robert Lorenz
Genre: Drama 

The latest Clint Eastwood vehicle, Trouble With The Curve, is standard formulaic fare, with the major plot developments pretty easy to spot coming straight down the pike.  And yet, I'm still just enough of a romantic sap to have gotten drawn in by the emotionally manipulative Walter Mitty-in-a-baseball-cap climax, which saves the win for this movie in the final inning. 

Clint Eastwood is Gus Lobel, a snarly over the hill major league baseball scout who possesses a sixth sense about evaluating the upcoming young talent he has been hired to observe. And he needs it, because his eyesight is failing. (Eastwood is now 82 years old. In the real world, a Gus Lobel would have been put out to pasture long ago, but Eastwood can pass for ten years younger than his chronological age, so the bounds of believability are not stretched too terribly tight on that score.)  

So Gus's thirty-something daughter, Mickey, (Amy Adams)  an attorney with a good shot at making partner in her firm, puts an important case on the back burner to become dad's seeing eye dog in the evaluation of one particular player--a hot prospect named  Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill.)  But is she ultimately sacrificing her own career for the sake of saving not-so-dear-old-dad's?   (They've had a strained relationship over the years.)     

Enter the obligatory romantic interest for Mickey in the person of Johnny Flanagan, (Justin Timberlake),  former pitcher and now working as a scout for a different team. But Mickey has had trouble getting close to people, and it's tied up with the abandonment she felt about her father's absence during her formative years.

Amy Adams turns in the only noteworthy performance in Trouble With The Curve. though they've tried to make her character some super-human savant, like the ones who have memorized the contents of the telephone book. Yes, she's a chip off the old block, but she spouts off obscure details of decades old baseball games (who were the three batters that Sandy Koufax retired in the bottom of the ninth when he pitched his perfect game in 1965?  That kind of stuff.)   Nobody who doesn't sit around and devote their whole life to memorizing baseball statistics would come up with that stuff, and as an attorney we assume she has better things to do, so here they HAVE stretched the bounds of believability to the breaking point. It may be a small thing in the context of the entire film, but for me the devil is in the details.     

Clint Eastwood will never veer too far from some modified version of Dirty Harry, or the sullen cigar-chomping tough guy from his spaghetti western days, and he growls his way through Trouble With The Curve in similar fashion. He does  get a shot at demonstrating some emotional depth here, but comes off sort of  like Popeye crying in his spinach. But fans won't care, because if they are true fans they have long ago accepted his limited range, and they are in love with the persona--kind of like the way that I will watch anything Zooey Deschanel is in and become completely absorbed into the black holes of her eyes, and not remember or care about anything else in the movie.

It's all wrapped up in a neat bow at the end, but the climactic scene is a real fist-pumper, and for that reason I am grading this movie on the curve.