Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake
Directed by: Robert Lorenz (debut)
Written by: Randy Brown (debut)
What’s going to happen to the sport of baseball when all of the grumpy old men in charge, stuck clinging to antiquated traditions and practices, finally die off? Will there be a renaissance, allowing for such modern technological marvels like instant replay? Will those devil boxes (you may know them as “computers”) finally be embraced as a valuable tool in scouting players instead of as some doohickey the grandkids horse around on? Or are there new sticks-in-the-mud in training as we speak? Is baseball destined to be eternally ruled by old timers?
Like the elders of baseball itself, “Trouble With The Curve” hasn’t got time for any nonsense from you whippersnappers. The film stars the legendary Clint Eastwood (fresh off his real-life takedown of an invisible, chair-bound Barack Obama) as Gus Lobel, a veteran scout for the Atlanta Braves. With his eyesight failing and younger, computer-savvy members of the organization looking to put the old man out to pasture, Gus is given one last chance and sent to North Carolina to scout the latest high school hotshot. Concerned about his old friend, Gus’s coworker Pete (a magnificently-mustached John Goodman) convinces Gus’s daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to put her skyrocketing law career on hold for a couple of days and accompany her aging father on his trip.
While both the baseball and relationship elements are as well-worn as an old little league glove, the latter benefits from some fine performances. Say what you will about the real-life Eastwood, but the 82-year-old still commands the screen even as a grizzled old codger. And while the screenplay muddies up the father-daughter relationship with Adams by plopping some half-cooked backstory near the end of the film, both she and Eastwood deliver solid base hits. Also, despite a groaner of an introduction, Justin Timberlake’s friendly rival scout and romantic interest lays another sturdy brick in the wall separating his acting career from his boy-band career.
Directed by long-time Eastwood producer Robert Lorenz, “Trouble With The Curve” plays like the anti-”Moneyball” when it comes to how the game is managed and played. The sentimentality and tradition of baseball are held in the highest regard, while anyone who knows their way around a laptop or smartphone or online stat sheet is treated like a clueless so-and-so who oughta stop futzing around with those damn gizmos and get out there in the real world, God damn it.