Eastwood’s latest (and last?) Curveball?
Fresh off his infamous conversation with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention a few weeks ago, Clint Eastwood returns to movie theaters in Trouble With the Curve.
I, like many, thought Eastwood retired from acting in 2008 after Gran Torino. That would have been a much better movie to complete his legacy. If Eastwood returns to retirement and Trouble With the Curve winds up being his last flick, he’ll go out with a whimper as opposed to the bang that was Gran Torino.
Trouble With the Curve also marks the first time Eastwood hasn’t directed the flick he’s starring in since 1993’s In the Line of Fire. This time he promotes his longtime assistant director, Robert Lorenz, to the top spot.
Time certainly seems to be on his side, since Eastwood is still as spry as most folks would probably hope to be at 82. In Trouble With the Curve, he’s Gus, the crotchety old guy (he sees no need to stray from what he does best) with failing eyesight. Gus is a highly regarded baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves, but now his declining health has the corporate bigwigs questioning some of his scouting opinions. He’s still an old-time sit-in-the-stands scout, while the younger guys would much rather let a computer program guide their decisions.
Widowed at a young age, Gus is sort of estranged from his legal-eagle daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), meaning they talk, but are not particularly close. She thought he deserted her after the mom died by sending her off to live with relatives while he thought he was doing the best he could for her. Many years later, they have a relationship, but it’s tenuous at best.
Mickey gets a call from Gus’ longtime boss and friend Pete (John Goodman), who suggests that Mickey accompany Gus on his upcoming scouting trip of a hot prospect in North Carolina. She’s perpetually chained to her work, but predictably, Mickey decides to go on the trip and father/daughter bonding ensues.
Though it seems set up to fit the fall baseball flick genre, the baseball part of the movie seemed woefully underwritten, especially when compared to the much better Moneyball movie from last year. Gus doubts the ability of the so-called top prospect Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill) because of his trouble hitting a curve ball, but aside from that, there really isn’t a whole lot of sports drama in this movie.
The script, written by Randy Brown, goes to great lengths to paint Mickey as a workaholic in Atlanta, so it’s no surprise when romance blooms for her in North Carolina. The romance between Mickey and former player-turned-scout Johnny (Justin Timberlake) felt like an afterthought. Basically, he was the only guy her age around, so it just seemed like the default decision to stick them together.
So what was this movie really about? More than anything it was tale of a father and daughter working out the kinks in their past and coming together for a harmonious future. Eastwood and Adams share some nice, heartwarming moments, but ultimately the movie was a little too humdrum and anti-climactic to leave a lasting impression. ••