Trouble with the Curve strikes out

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Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, and Justin Timberlake. Rated PG. Opens Friday, September 21, at the Ridge Theatre

You see Clint Eastwood do some new things in Trouble With the Curve. Like talk to his pecker, for instance (curious gerontophiles please note: he calls it “You little son of a bitch”). He also delivers a graveside rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” that’ll tear your heart out. It’s among the rawest and most honest scenes in the actor’s career, now past the half-century mark.

Sadly, moments like that one make you long for what Trouble With the Curve might have been. Eastwood invests his all (what’s left of it) into the film as Gus Lobel, a scout for the Atlanta Braves whose declining health and squinty-eyed disdain for newfangled shit like “the interwebs” make him a sad, old joke to the young-’uns gunning for his job back at the office, like Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard, doing a fine job of being detestable.)

Lobel’s boss, Pete Klein (John Goodman), knows his true worth, however. He might bump into tables and set his kitchen on fire periodically, like most old people, but Lobel can judge a player’s chops from the sound his bat makes. It’s an astoundingly convenient skill, because Lobel is secretly going blind, which is why Klein persuades Lobel’s daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to join Dad on a scouting mission that might determine the rest of his career. Mickey, on the other hand, risks losing partnership in her law firm to go watch a bunch of high-school ball games, but, hey: the old man was mostly absent, and she’s pissed about it.

If that scenario seems too forced, the film’s final 10 minutes are more rigged than the 1919 World Series. Eastwood and Adams manage to rise above the script’s laughably broad characters (although poor old Justin Timberlake has to cruise on charm in his role as a rival scout)—and it’s all very handsomely mounted by first-time director Robert Lorenz—but the trouble with Curve is too many bonehead plays.


Watch the trailer for Trouble with the Curve.

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