Clint at bat
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE ★★★
12A cert, general release, 111 min WOW. LISTENING to the dialogue, one could forgive supporting player Matthew Lillard for thinking he had signed on for Scooby Doo 3. An old-fashioned baseball drama composed entirely of spoken word character blurbs, Trouble with the Curve is as unsophisticated and gooey as the ballpark hotdogs it wishes to rhapsodize. You want corn with that? You’re getting it.
Elderly Atlanta Braves scout Gus (Clint Eastwood) is struggling with failing eyesight and chronic grumpiness when the franchise sends him out to look at a new prospect in North Carolina. The suits in the boardroom are hesitant; the new corporate breed (Lillard) gathered around the CEO (Robert Patrick) want to stick to the stats.
“Grrr,” rumbles Gus. “You don’t know anything about the game. A computer can’t tell if a kid’s got instincts.”
Concerned for his friend, fellow old-schooler Pete (John Goodman) calls in Gus’s daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), a hotshot lawyer with serious abandonment issues: “Grrr. I didn’t want you to have life in the cheap seats. That’s all,” growls dad.
Mickey might be a vegan and a yoga practitioner (“Grrr. Voodoo”), but she still knows more about the game than some “damn computer”.
Double play: Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood in Trouble with the Curve Can the reluctant father-daughter team — surely stars of the best detective agency show never made — bond on the sidelines and beat the suits? Damn straight.
Trouble with the Curve, like its protagonist, is all about the magic, not the science. In its ballpark Camelot of mom-and-pop businesses, solid sportsmanship and mythical out-of-the-park moves, decent folks like Gus and young rival scout Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake on the charm offensive) are destined to beat the odds, and franchise-minded “stars” with designs on “one of them Desperate Housewives” are doomed.
Eastwood war room regular Robert Lorenz, the big man’s AD for some 20 years, provides the unfussy direction. It’s not the most nuanced entertainment of the season, but the back-and-forth between Clint, Adams and Timberlake makes for irresistible cheese.
Like the similarly romantic Grand Torino, Curve promises a future wherein hardworking women and immigrants shall inherent the earth. And everyone has a good mind to give last year’s cynical Moneyball a spanking. Grrr.
Directed by Robert Lorenz. Starring Clint Eastwood, Justin Timberlake, Amy Adams, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard, Robert Patrick