Director: Robert Lorenz
Rating PG-13. Running Time: 111 mins.
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, John Goodman
Like a big, looping knuckleball, Clint Eastwood's new movie Trouble With the Curve wanders amiably, threatens to go wild, but in the end settles smack in the middle of the plate.
Clint, now 82, plays Gus, a cranky old baseball scout who still pores over local newspaper sports pages for the inside dope on promising newbies — while his younger colleagues swear by electronic spreadsheets and computer models. He's been scouring minor league ballparks, inhaling red dirt and fertilizer (and smoke from the prodigious cigars he fancies) since the 1970s, and he's not about to change the way he does business, even though the young turks consider him a squinty-eyed, gobble-necked dinosaur.
See also: Classic baseball movies.
In other words, remember the hopelessly mired-in-the-past baseball scouts who went up against computer-savvy Brad Pitt in Moneyball? In Trouble With the Curve, those guys are the heroes and Pitt is the insufferable loser. And that's a universe in which I'm very comfortable.
Of course, substitute "cranky old baseball scout" with "boxing coach," "astronaut," "gunslinger" or "detective" and you've got an apt description for just about every character Clint has played for the last three decades or so. And that's fine, too. For those of us who have joined the old guards of our chosen professions, the notion of a seasoned pro who shares our reluctance to adapt while managing, against the odds, to excel in a brave new world is not just appealing, it's downright necessary.
And so we get Gus, whose struggles against old age are not just galling, they're career-threatening: He's developed severe sight problems, a seemingly insurmountable professional obstacle when your job is assessing the break on a rookie's curveball.
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But Gus has had a blind spot of another kind for decades: He's failed to see the heartbreak of his grown daughter, Mickey (adorable Amy Adams), the girl he virtually abandoned to the care of distant relatives after the death of his wife a quarter-century ago. Now a top-flight Atlanta lawyer, Mickey has understandable man issues, and her relationship with her dad involves an endless series of aborted dinners as one or the other inevitably ends up throwing down a napkin and stalking out.
Next: Does Mickey let her guard down and fall in love? »