Trouble with the Curve | Movie review
Clint Eastwood gets another chance at bat.
Viewers scratching their heads over Clint Eastwood’s RNC ad-lib will be relieved to learn the erstwhile Man with No Name still has star power—and appears compos mentis—in Trouble with the Curve, a rote but heartfelt backstage-baseball drama that casts Eastwood as an aging Atlanta scout. In many ways, it’s the anti-Moneyball, with the fading-legend protag, Gus, insisting on the primacy of instinct over statistics. Gus believes the game depends on factors too fine to be caught by computers; he’s losing his eyesight, but he can still hear the way a grip slips on a bat.
Circa 2008, the actor suggested Gran Torino’s Walt Kowalski would be his last role. That film’s anti-reactionary message seemed a fitting send-off for the former Dirty Harry, but with his sometime assistant director Robert Lorenz making a feature debut, Eastwood has taken one for the team and returned. (He has a producer credit, and the crew consists of regular collaborators like cinematographer Tom Stern, brightening his palette here.) And as with other non-Eastwood-directed Eastwoods—Pink Cadillac, In the Line of Fire—hardcore fans will probably claim it as the auteur’s own. Indeed, like Gran Torino and Million Dollar Baby, Trouble with the Curve is another parable of ceding the stage to a new generation: It’s at least as concerned with Gus’s daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams, terrific), and her struggles to make partner at a sexist law firm, as it is with Eastwood’s lonely crank; her romantic interest, an injured ballplayer–turned-recruiter played by Justin Timberlake, allows the movie to muse on one of Eastwood’s pet subjects, regret. Trouble with the Curve is too cornball and—especially in its abrupt resolution—shoddily plotted to go down as a classic. But unlike the convention speech, it’s not an unforced error.