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MOVIE REVIEW: Trouble With The Curve

A warm-hearted, bitter-sweet tale of ailing, aging, regrets, and the love for the American game of baseball. Eastwood growls at the world, but still loves the roar of the crowd.

Low and Inside

RATED: 4 out of 5 Buckets | WORTH: Matinee and DVD

Rated: PG-13 Language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking
Release Date: September 21, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 51 minutes

Director: Robert Lorenz
Writers: Randy Brown
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Joe Massingill, Matthew Lillard, Robert Patrick, John Goodman

SYNOPSIS:  An ailing baseball scout in his twilight years takes his daughter along for one last recruiting trip.

REVIEW: Robert Lorenz, longtime producing partner of Clint Eastwood and first assistant director on such films as Mystic RiverMillion Dollar Baby, and Space Cowboys, moves into the director's chair for the first time to direct favorite actor Clint Eastwood as an aging and ailing baseball scout. Based on a story by new scribe Randy Brown, Lorenz continues with Eastwood's late career as the gristled old man with regrets and something still to prove. 

Atlanta Braves' veteran talent scout Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven) fights against the tide of modern technology to try and find baseball talent the old fashioned way - with decades of firsthand experience. But with a contract nearing its end and his eyesight failing, Gus must travel to North Carolina to scout out new prospect Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill, Glee) as a possible first round draft pick, keeping his failing eyesight a secret. Longtime friend and co-worker Peter Klein (John Goodman, ParaNorman), worried about Gus, asks Gus' daughter Mickey (Amy Adams, The Fighter) to meet her father on the road to help him with his work. A hard working lawyer on a fast-track to a firm partnership, Mickey puts her work partially on hold to help her father and to try to repair their fragile relationship. Back in Atlanta talent scout Phillip Sanderson (Matt Lillard, The Descendants) looks to undermind Gus' work and help push him into retirement with the help of computer models and statistical protection reports. Sitting on the bleachers with the other scouts is Johnny 'The Flame' Flannigan, a promising pitcher who was worked too hard, too fast on the way to a torn rotater cuff and a forced switch in careers, takes a shine to the man who originally signed him and a shine to the daughter who knows too much about baseball to be a lawyer.

Trouble With the Curve marks another in a long line of films by veteran actor Clint Eastwood. From the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns where he played 'The Man With No Name', to the iconic Dirty Harry with his .44 Magnum, to a couple stints with an orangutan, to a later prolific career as a boxing coach and a retired Korean War vet, Clint Eastwood's career has been varied and successful. His latest effort simply adds to his canon of quality films.

Like Gran Torino and Million Dollar Baby before it, Trouble with the Curve continues with Eastwood's gristled old man character just trying to deal with the concept of getting old while still being relevant. Eastwood's Gus Lobel realizes that his way of doing things, although a perfect mix of experience and historical significance, finds that he is becoming a relic in the new world of computers and statistical projection programs. But its not only the age of technology that is the problem. It is also the younger scouts with an reliance on those computer models without the 'feel' for the game. Sure, a computer can project whether a player can hit against left handers, but can it pick up the nuances of how a player fares and picks himself up after going 0 for 4 in the game the night before. Lobel considers the personal connection to the players and the game to be the pure experience.

Clint Eastwood is pure Eastwood. With a gravely voice and dialogue that barely registers over a whisper at times, Eastwood's Lobel says the most with his steely gray eyes and a rumbling growl. Amy Adams, Oscar nominated for The Fighter, continues to prove that she is a quality actress with talent beyond the crazy senator's daughter from Wedding Crashers. As a woman with a 'dysfunctional sense of taking care' of her father, Mickey just wants to reconnect with her father and expel the feelings of abandonment from her youth. John Goodman as Pete Klein anchors the film as Gus' gentle and concerned front office friend, ready to go to bat for Gus a moment's notice. Justin Timberlake, as the former superstar in the making turned talent scout turned possible future broadcaster Johnny 'The Flame' Flannigan, brings a hope and lightness to the film that balances Gus' harder edge. Both have an appreciation of the game and it history of the sport, while representing the polar ends of their careers. Rounding out the cast are Matt Lillard as Gus' main Braves scout nemesis who feels technology is the ultimate replacement for the old-timers traveling in the field. And the focal point of the film, first round draft prospect Bo Gentry, shows that the allure of the majors is sometimes less about the purity and love of the game and more about possible endorsements and all that comes with a superstar status.

Trouble With The Curve is a warm-hearted, bitter-sweet tale of aging, the regrets we endure for the semblance of the greater good, the fight for relevance, and the love for the purely American game of baseball. The story does have a few moments of predictability, but a stellar case hits this story out of the park. Eastwood may growl at the rest of the world, but he still loves the roar of the crowd. 

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