Movie Review: 'Trouble with the Curve' -- 3 stars
Trouble with the Curve
Directed by Robert Lorenz
Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake
Clint Eastwood doesn't talk to an empty chair in "Trouble with the Curve," but he does play another of his grizzled, "get off my lawn"-type characters.
This father-daughter baseball drama directed by Eastwood's longtime producer Robert Lorenz proves there's some mileage left in that particular tank, especially when the daughter's played by the great Amy Adams and the screenplay surrounding them taps into some appealingly old-fashioned ideas about the magic of what was once America's Pastime.
Eastwood's Gus is a longtime scout for the Atlanta Braves, who has amassed a long list of prominent signings. But he's being pushed toward retirement, with the movie's version of the Braves embracing the Moneyball-type analysis and young Ivy League hotshots that are major forces in front offices across baseball.
There's one last chance for the ailing octogenarian to stay relevant, to prove he's still got it: Make the right call on a high school star in North Carolina. Concerned daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), a workaholic lawyer, joins dad on the trip to the Tar Heel State. Against a small-town backdrop of diners, motels, country western bars and high school ballparks, the pair begins to slowly repair a fractured relationship.
Lorenz, working from a screenplay by Robert Brown, employs a simple, character-driven approach. The movie isn't really about the crack of a bat or the smell of the grass. It's about the way Gus and Mickey bond over the sport, with their shared passion for it unlocking the past hurts that have left them otherwise stunted and distant from one another.
You'd be hard pressed to find a more likable combo than Eastwood and Adams. She matches his familiar bluster, standing up to the curmudgeonly protestations with genuine spirit. This is the story of Mickey's coming-of-age as much as it's portraying the twilight of Gus' career. And Adams' Mickey, proud and vulnerable, is a character worth caring about.
In the end, "Trouble with the Curve" offers a minor rendition of the baseball-as-healer cinematic mode perfected by movies like "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural." No one builds a magical diamond in Iowa or hits lights-shattering home runs. But in an age where football has eclipsed baseball in popularity, it's refreshing to see a movie that celebrates what used to be.