Eastwood’s latest is the anti-‘Moneyball’
When Clint Eastwood got smart and realized he couldn’t pull off the aging action hero anymore he switched gears and created a new iconic persona, the grumpy old man with the gravely whisper of a voice who reluctantly lets his emotions break through his hard veneer.
This persona served him spectacularly in two films he directed, Million Dollar Baby and Grand Torino. It still works, but to a lesser degree, in Trouble With the Curve, directed by Eastwood’s long-time producing partner Robert Lorenz.
Eastwood plays veteran Atlanta Braves scout Gus Lobel, who discovered many of the Braves top players over the years, from Dale Murphy to Chipper Jones. However, in this “what have you done for me lately?” world, he is being pushed out the door by the young guns who make personnel decisions using statistics and computer analysis rather than keen observation in the field. In the movie Moneyball, which championed the new wave of sabermetrics, the old-school scouts were ridiculed; this movie reverses that process.
Grumpy Gus is losing his sight, so when his pal and director of scouting Pete (John Goodman) sends him out to check out the latest can’t-miss prospect, Pete asks Gus’s daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to go with him. Thus, the movie becomes a father-daughter bonding film, with Mickey wanting to confront abandonment issues and Gus wanting to duck the showdown.
Justin Timberlake is along for the ride as Johnny, a scout for the Red Sox, and as the most perfunctory of romantic partners. When Johnny and Mickey go for a night swim, I suddenly wished this were a horror movie and something was lurking under the water to take Johnny under.
Eastwood and Adams are fine together, and as a baseball fan who agrees with the traditional side of the scouting argument, Trouble With the Curve is acceptable lightweight entertainment.
Trouble With the Curve **½ (out of four stars)
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