Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood in "Trouble with the Curve"
Trouble with the Curve
Slogging through the first 75 minutes of "Trouble with the Curve" is akin to watching a scoreless baseball game that doesn't get exciting until the ninth inning. The film is often ponderous and dreary, and undertones of soft piano or guitar further dull the pacing.
Still, several solid performances and the presence of iconic actor Clint Eastwood offer some relief.
One never knows which film will be 82-year-old Eastwood's last, so seeing him on screen is still a treat. Eastwood growls and grumbles through his performance as Gus, an accomplished baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves whose advancing age is taking its toll. His vision and mobility suffer, and the industry's advancing technology befuddles him (what's the Internet?). The higher-ups at the Braves believe Gus' skills may be waning, though his longtime friend and colleague, Pete (an endearing John Goodman), defends him at every turn.
When Gus is sent off to scout a potential top draft pick, Pete convinces Gus' daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to tag along and keep an eye on her ornery dad. Mickey has her own reasons for taking the trip, namely to finally confront her father about why he seemingly abandoned her after the death of her mother. Subplots regarding Mickey's career as an attorney and her blossoming romance with a former major-league pitcher (Justin Timberlake) are tangential to the core father-daughter dynamic.
Eastwood's age is showing, but he still has the gravitas to carry a film. While he plays it gruff throughout (as he does in, well, pretty much every movie he's ever been in), he does show a sensitive side in one memorable scene. Speaking to his wife's tombstone at the graveyard, he begins to softly sing to her, choking back tears as he goes on. The moment is special -- this tough-as-nails baseball man is vulnerable after all.
Adams nearly steals the show with her strong, heartfelt portrayal. She has a tendency to over-articulate her dialogue but delivers each line with emotion and sincerity. (An Academy Award may be in her future, though not for this film.) And her plucky presence helps lighten the somber affair. Timberlake is also thoroughly charming, and continues to prove he knows what it takes to be a good actor.
"Trouble" represents the directorial debut of longtime Eastwood collaborator Robert Lorenz, who worked alongside Eastwood on "Million Dollar Baby," "Absolute Power" and a slew of other pictures. But Lorenz's freshman effort is more foul tip than base hit.
Rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, thematic material and smoking. 1 hour, 51 minutes.
- Tyler Hanley