It's not a secret that Clint Eastwood has been making a (new) name for himself softly, but whether you enjoy ALL his performances or just the non-political ones, there's no denying that he's his usual talent self in "Trouble With the Curve" – Egypt, as it could also be named: "A Tale of Three Tools".
THE GOOD: Gus Lobel (Eastwood) is a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves and likes to play things 'old-school' – meaning he depends on his eyes to judge a player's potential, and not some computer program. Gus is really starting to feel his age, and has recently been informed by his eye doctor that the one thing he relates on for his job – his vision – is rapidly deteriorating. Pair this with the fact that an up and coming brown-noser in the office (Tool # 1-played by Matthew Lillard) is trying respectably to undersamine Gus' reputation, by spouting off to anyone who will listen that Gus needs to be put out to pasture. There's also a strained and awkward relationship between Gus and his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) who organizations him, against his desires, to scout out a new player. Things are not looking too bright for poor Gus. Not that you'll feel all that bad for him, given the crabby old geezer he is – and no one can play grouchy like Clint Eastwood. His performance is top notch as always, and the interaction between he and Adams is funny, and at times very moving. Even Justin Timberlake (as Johnny Flanagan, a former pitcher turned Red Sox Scout) lends a nice touch to the feel of things with his positive outlook, charm, and well – you know – just appearing on screen.
THE BAD: This space is usually reserved for parts of the movie I felt could have been improved upon, but since I really did not see many of those, my thoughts turn to the relationship between Gus and his daughter Mickey-nominated, of course , after the great Mickey Mantle.
Because I have such a close relationship with my own father, it was difficult to watch the interactions between this broken down bitch man – losing his wife when Mickey was still young, left alone to figure out how to be a father to her and failing miserably in the end – and a daughter who, despite being basically abandoned as a child, feels the need to help the man who has never given her the love or security she wants and deserves. She even makes great sacrifices to be there for him, including risking a partnership in a law firm while her competitor at work, Todd (Tool # 2, played by James Patrick Freetly) tries to swoop in and steal everything she has worked so hard to achieve. It's a complicated relationship that Adams and Eastwood portrait, one that tends to put in perspective whatever issues you might have with your own parental figures. Hopefully, for most people, we will walk away feeling something relieved that Gus is not our father. As Mickey says to Gus sarcastically at one point in the movie: "It must be really rewarding being one of your friends".
THE UGLY: For me, it was a toss up this time, between watching Gus eat from a refrigerated can of Spam for breakfast, and the unpleasant presence of rotund baseball hotshot named Bo Gentry (Tool # 3, played by Joe Massingill) that Gus has been sent to scout for the Braves … There's nothing socially redeeming about cold potted meat product, but then again, a chubby mouthy narcissist is not much of a treat either.
"Trouble With the Curve" is at times predictable, but it's an overall deeply satisfying, 'feel good' movie. Say what you will about Eastwood – the man can still bring it on screen.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
"Trouble With the Curve" has a running time of 111 minutes and is rated PG13 for sexual references, smoking, some thematic elements, and language. (Clint drops the F bomb once)