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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Trouble with the Curve | Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, Robert Patrick, John Goodman | Review

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Trouble With The Curve

'Trouble With the Curve' is set in the world of baseball. But don't be fooled.  This drama, injected with some humor, is less about the game and more about the strained relationship between a father and daughter.

For the first time in over 20 years Clint Eastwood acts in a film he did not direct, and hands over the reins to his long time producing partner Robert Lorenz.  Under Lorenz's directorial debut, Eastwood stars as Gus Lobel, a cantankerous, crusty, old talent scout for the Atlanta Braves who is sent by his boss to South Carolina to check out a hot shot prospect Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill).  The problem is Gus' vision is failing, he is strictly old school, anti computer and doesn't believe in statistics, but rather his experience and instincts to know what to look for in a potential superstar.  With the belief that Gus is over the hill and past his prime, the team's owners are seriously considering letting the aging scout go after his contract expires.  Waiting in the wings to grab Gus's job is his much younger, computer savvy co-worker, obnoxious and ambitious Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard, at his swarmiest).

Amy Adams plays Mickey (named after Mickey Mantle), Gus' strong willed, workaholic attorney daughter who is asked by Gus' boss and long time friend Pete Klein (John Goodman) to accompany, watch over, and help her dad since he is concerned about Gus and his future with the Braves.  As her father's daughter, Mickey has a keen knowledge of baseball that she acquired from being around her dad and the sport as a young girl before her mother died and he sent her away to live with relatives.  It is clear that Gus and Mickey have issues that have impacted their relationship. He has been living with a secret and guilt that has been giving him recurring nightmares and Mickey has trouble making any romantic commitments since feeling abandoned by her father at a young age. Nevertheless, she longs to connect with her old man who appears distant and cold.

Adding complications to the mix is Justin Timberlake as Johnny Flanagan, Mickey's potential love interest, a former pitcher, turned novice scout for the Boston Red Sox, after an injury blew his arm out and forced him to quit the game.  Flanagan aspires to be a sports announcer but for now, when not eyeing a potential draft pick, is determined to pursue Mickey, the girl of his dreams.

What elevates the formulaic material are the performances. Eastwood, now in his his 80's, still has a commanding screen presence.  That said, having portrayed a similar character (this time, minus the bigotry) in Gran Torino, enough is enough and the screen legend needs to give this type of role a rest. Adams who has proven to be an actress of considerable range and versatility once again shines. Well cast as Eastwood's smart, sassy, and guarded daughter the best scenes revolve around the convincing interactions between her and the veteran actor. And, as Mickey's suitor, the likeable Timberlake is effective, charming and irresistible.

For all its good intentions and attempt to be a touching story about estrangement, reconciliation and breaking down emotional barriers, there is a lot of trouble with 'Trouble with the Curve'. To its detriment, the screenplay by first timer Randy Brown is overwrought with contrivances and predictability. I could see miles away where the story was going including how a minor, sideline character would eventually fit into the sentimental conclusion that has all the loose ends conveniently and neatly tied together and conflicts resolved.

For once, it would have been a nice surprise to have been thrown a curve regarding the direction of  the story and its outcome. Unfortunately, when all is said and done, The 'Trouble With The Curve' is unable to hit it out of the park.

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