Rock of age: Clint Eastwood swings for the fences in Trouble With the Curve

by Mark Burger

Clint Eastwood swings for the fences in Trouble With the Curve

The trouble with Trouble With the Curve , lies squarely in Randy Brown’s script, which tends to be awash in sentimentality and rife with clichés. (Brown’s a first-timer, so maybe he deserves a little slack.)

What makes the film work as well as it does — and sometimes very well indeed — is the charisma and conviction of its cast, in particular Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams, cast as father and daughter, and frequent sparring partners. This is a textbook example of actors elevating a formulaic film into an eminently watchable, often entertaining one.

Eastwood’s Gus Lobell is a veteran, oldschool Atlanta Braves baseball scout in the twilight of his career. Widowed and weathering failing eyesight, Gus is determined to go

on as before, although his worried supervisor, Pete Klein (a warm John Goodman), expresses concern for both his health and career.

Pete manages to convince Gus’ daughter Mickey (Adams), a highpowered Atlanta attorney, to accompany her father on a scouting tour through the Carolinas, just to keep an eye on him — all the while knowing it could well be his last stint.

As the tour progresses on and off the diamond, Gus and Mickey come to a better understanding of both the game of baseball, the game of life and each other. There’s reconciliation in the air — no surprise — and likely romance for Mickey in the person of Johnny (an affable Justin Timberlake), a former big-league pitcher (and discovery of Gus’), now embarking on his own career as a scout.

Longtime Eastwood collaborator Robert Lorenz assumes the directorial reins here, making his big-screen bow in that capacity and does a decent enough job, although once again it’s that likable, talented cast that comes to the rescue whenever things bog down. Mickey has a lawyer boyfriend who is such a non-entity that the story could have dispensed with the character altogether, especially as it’s a foregone conclusion she’ll wind up with Johnny. Likewise, her bosses at the firm (including such old pros as Bob Gunton and George Wyner) are typically soulless.

With Eastwood comes a lifetime’s worth of illustrious baggage, and at this stage in his career there’s an almost valedictory tone to his work. How many more times will we have the pleasure of seeing him act? It’s not something to be taken for granted, even in oftensudsy circumstances as these. His iconic screen image is so indelible that it’s an undiluted pleasure watching Clint Eastwood — who’s both a fine actor and a great star — hold the screen once more, something he does with effortless ease.

Adams, undoubtedly one of our finest young actresses (three Oscar nominations and counting), has a delightfully prickly onscreen rapport with both Eastwood and Timberlake, and there are welcome appearances by the likes of Ed Lauter, Chelcie Ross, Robert Patrick (amusingly poker-faced as the Braves’ general manager) and even funnyman Tom Dreesen.

An animated Matthew Lillard plays the hotshot Braves executive gunning for supremacy and determined to put Gus out to pasture, going so far as to gamble his job to that end. Needless to say, he’ll get what’s coming to him. You square off against Clint Eastwood, you’re taking your life into your hands. LOG ONTO — click on the “Flicks” section. Then go to “What’s Showing”