Clint Eastwood plays an ornery veteran baseball scout battling failing eyesight and an estranged daughter in Trouble with the Curve, a corny baseball drama whose story arc is as predictable as an easily caught fly ball.
Gus Lobel, the latest in a line of cranky Eastwood old-timers at odds with the modern world, is a baseball legend, a scout who could ‘spot talent from an airplane’. Unlike his statistics-obsessed younger peers poring over their computers (as in last year’s Moneyball), Gus relies on personal observation and experience to make his picks.
But with his eyes failing, he’s worried his bosses at the Atlanta Braves will push him into retirement if he doesn’t bring home the goods from his latest scouting trip to North Carolina, where an arrogant high-school batting prodigy is currently peppering the stands with balls. To help him out, concerned colleague Pete (John Goodman) persuades Gus’s workaholic lawyer daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to put aside a crucial case and accompany him on the trip.
Will Mickey forgive Gus for a lifetime of neglect? Will she hook up romantically with charming rival scout Johnny (Justin Timberlake)? And will her love and knowledge of the game enable Gus to hit a final scouting home run?
The answers to these questions won’t take anyone by surprise: despite its title, this isn’t a film that pitches curve balls at the viewer. Like Eastwood’s protagonist, Trouble with the Curve is resolutely old-fashioned and old school.
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As such, it delivers reliable entertainment, even if first-time director Robert Lorenz, Eastwood’s producer for the past decade, fails to get as much out of his star as Eastwood the director managed in 2008’s Gran Torino. But if Eastwood’s crabbiness sometimes verges on self-parody, Adams breathes life into her hackneyed role. Trouble with the Curve misses its swing now and then, but when Adams is at bat she always connects.
In cinemas from Friday 30th November.
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