by Julian Spivey
Robert Lorenz’s directorial debut “Trouble with the Curve”, a simple drama starring Clint Eastwood as a grizzled old baseball scout, is not going to go down as a classic or likely even a great film, but it’s definitely a really good film featuring really good performances and should be praised as such.
Eastwood gives his typical grizzled old coot performance of late that we’ve seen in movies like “Gran Torino” and “Million Dollar Baby” as Gus, a veteran Atlanta Braves scout who’s beginning to lose his sight. It’s essentially the same type of performance we see a lot from Eastwood, but we love it anyway and couldn’t ever imagine another actor playing this type of role. Gus is right in Eastwood’s wheelhouse as an actor, so why fault the guy for playing the character as such?
Eastwood came out of retirement to play the elderly Braves scout in this film because of his friendship with longtime collaborator Lorentz. If it turns out that “Trouble with the Curve” is Eastwood’s final film as an actor than it certainly won’t be a disappointing performance, but his previous acting job in his own film 2008’s “Gran Torino”, which should’ve garnered Eastwood an Oscar acting nomination, would’ve made for a better swan song. However, “Trouble with the Curve” certainly makes for a better swan song than talking to an invisible chair at the Republican National Convention would have.
Despite Eastwood’s usual fine performance as a cranky old codger he almost gets overshadowed somewhat here by his onscreen daughter Mickey, as played perfectly by the beautiful Amy Adams. Adams has turned into one of the most gifted actresses in Hollywood and shines here as the successful lawyer wanting to repair a broken relationship with the father that abandoned her as a child. Mickey is probably a rather easy performance for Adams to give, but she does it very effortlessly nonetheless.
Not only do the scenes involving the father-daughter dynamic of Eastwood and Adams click perfectly, but so do the budding relationship scenes between Adams and Justin Timberlake’s Johnny, a former hotshot pitcher whose arm burned out and now finds himself as a scout for the Boston Red Sox with aspirations of becoming an announcer. Timberlake is incredibly charming here and he and Adams make very a cute and intriguing onscreen couple. I have my doubts that Timberlake will ever become a real serious dramatic actor with award winning type roles, but as long as he’s playing characters that effuse this much charm he will find audiences smiling and eating him up.
“Trouble with the Curve” also features some nice supporting performances from John Goodman as the head of scouting for the Braves and Matthew Lillard as the smarmy executive wanting to do away with Gus’s old school tactics in favor of “Moneyball”-esque ways.
“Trouble with the Curve” certainly could have been a better film, but it’s not really right to lambaste a perfectly good film for not being great simply because you think it had the potential to be better. It’s a feel good movie that doesn’t strive to be much more and that’s OK. The performances from Eastwood, Adams and Timberlake are the heart of this film and it turns out to be a pretty big heart.