Clint at bat

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

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

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