Trouble with the Curve

Clint Eastwood has garnered the most publicity he’s had in a few years for his…er, conversation with Invisible Obama at the Republican National Convention. Let’s just write it off as in-character promotion for Trouble with the Curve, the first film Eastwood’s starred in without also directing since 1993’s In the Line of Fire.

Eastwood stars as Gus Lobel, an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves with one last shot to prove he’s still capable of doing his job. On an assignment that will prove whether or not he’s still capable of doing his job, Gus is joined by his daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), who helps as Gus’ failing vision becomes more of an issue. Mickey strikes up a relationship of sorts with another scout, Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), a former player discovered by Gus years earlier.

As far as sport-related films go, Trouble with the Curve is one of the better entries of the past few years. The bulk of the film has less to do with the sport of baseball, and more on the relationship between Gus and Mickey. Eastwood is the rare actor who is still capable of headlining a major film in his 80s, and it’s because of a combination of talent and selective choosing. The roles he picks, including this one, seem tailor-made for Eastwood, and he’s able to knock his performances out of the park.

He’s more than matched by Adams, who does stellar work as Mickey. As a character, Mickey is a bit typical: she’s the hard-working, dedicated female professional. Adams embues the character with a lot of warmth and depth that’s normally lacking in these roles. Her interactions with Eastwood, which dominate the film, provide many of the best moments. Adams also does well against Timberlake, whose choice to focus on films over music is beginning to show more promise. Here, he uses his natural charisma to break away at Mickey’s defenses, giving Adams more ammunition to steal the movie out from underneath Eastwood’s proverbial lawn.

It’s worth mentioning that Trouble with the Curve is a bit formulaic in its approach. What makes it stand out are the performances, which make the majority of the film purely enjoyable. Only a final-act setup and too-neat ending detract from an otherwise worthwhile film. These problems are somewhat forgivable in light of what comes before, though.

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