Review: 'Trouble with the Curve'
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Saturday, September 22, 2012
9/22/12 at 5:38 AM
Clint Eastwood has mastered the growl.
He spent a good amount of time using it in his newest cranky-old-man role, this time as Gus Lobel, a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves who is having trouble doing his job because of failing eyesight.
When Gus' doctor tells him he has macular degeneration and possibly glaucoma, Eastwood ignores the suggestion to see a specialist and hides the condition from his bosses, friends and daughter, Mickey (played by Amy Adams).
But a friend and coworker, suspecting something is wrong and afraid Gus will lose his job if an important scouting trip doesn't go well, asks Mickey to accompany her father on the trip.
Mickey, whose mother died when she was 6, is a baseball whiz herself, having grown up accompanying her father on his numerous scouting adventures. Despite their rocky relationship because of Gus' inattentiveness to her growing up, Mickey heads out to help him, risking a significant promotion as a partner attorney at a law firm, a job she only pursued to please her father.
The film is a predictable father-daughter drama, written by first-timer Randy Brown. It's sweet and touching but without offering anything particularly memorable.
"Trouble with the Curve," the first directing project of Eastwood's longtime producing partner Robert Lorenzo (who's also been an assistant director for several movies, including some of Eastwood's), is slow-moving. But that's not entirely a bad thing, perhaps helping viewers get a sense of the tension that accumulated over the years between Gus and his daughter.
When it comes to the acting, there are few complaints.
Adams is believable as a 33-year-old woman in control of her work life but having trouble with relationships because of what she views as her father's abandonment. She's a tough girl, having grown up "around men who swore, drank and farted." But she's also vulnerable, having constantly questioned whether something she did caused her father to leave her.
Justin Timberlake brings the movie some needed light-heartedness as a young scout who's attracted to Mickey from the moment he sees her at a game. His role brings the same spark to the movie as his characters did in "The Social Network" and "Bad Teacher."
And Eastwood, of course, offers a solid performance in this now-familiar character that seems to suit him, although this film is no "Gran Torino" or "Million Dollar Baby."
At first, his grumpiness is so overdone as to become slightly annoying. As the opening scenes showed him muttering to himself and kicking over tables after bumping into them, I couldn't help but think of those infomercials that work extra hard to show you how bad those other products are.
But an early scene in which Gus visits his wife's grave and tries to explain to her how he feels unsuited to be a father shows his softer side, and the tears Eastwood sheds will put the actor's fans back in his pocket.
Strangely, after viewers have a better understanding of Gus' gruffness, it's almost easier to accept the film's predictability and slow pace. Feeling sorry for the loving father who just doesn't know how to express his emotions, viewers will find themselves willing to stick it out if for no other reason but to root for Gus and Mickey.
'TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE'
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman
Theater: Promenade, Cinemark Tulsa, Cinemark Broken Arrow, Starworld, RiverWalk, Owasso, Eton Square, Moviestar Cinema, Sand Springs, Admiral Twin Drive-in
Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking)
Quality: (on a scale of zero to four stars)
Original Print Headline: Actors are star of 'Trouble' film
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
Clint Eastwood is an aging and ailing baseball scout and Amy Adams is his daughter in the new film "Trouble with the Curve." KEITH BERNSTEIN/Warner Bros. Pictures,