Eastwood’s Latest the Perfect Matinee Movie
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012/IN THEATERS) Clint Eastwood’s new film is his first since “In the Line of Fire” (1993) in which he acts but didn’t direct. But his hand is evident since Robert Lorenz, the film’s first-time director, has helped produce Eastwood’s last 12 films and was a second-unit director on others. So the straightforward storytelling and filmmaking we’ve come to expect from Eastwood will seem familiar. As for the story, this movie is the “anti” Moneyball. Remember the old guys in that movie—the scouts sitting around the table– who argued with Brad Pitt and Seth Rogen’s computer-based statistical approach to baseball? Well, in Trouble with the Curve, they are vindicated. In fact, by the end, Eastwood’s Gus Lobel has beaten the computer guys hands down, even while he’s losing his eyesight to macular degeneration. Let’s hear it for the old dudes! The story is pretty simple: Gus Lobel (Eastwood) is facing old age and the possible loss of his job as a recruiter for the Atlanta Braves. His only daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) is a hotshot lawyer looking to become the first female partner at a firm in the city. She’s a no nonsense woman with a shaky relationship to her father who was widowed at an early age and sent her away for much of her childhood. But it’s clear that she has his passion for the sport and a talent for spotting talent also. Gus is heading out for his make-or-break recruiting trip to North Carolina when Mickey turns up. She’s been sent by his best friend and colleague Pete (John Goodman) who knows about Gus’ big problem and his unspoken need for help. While on the road, the two hook up with Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), a former pitcher discovered by Gus now turned recruiter for the Red Sox. Johnny has an eye for Mickey and slowly begins to thaw her lawyer’s tough front. Cast as the “bad guy/ambitious rival of Gus” in the flick is Matthew Lillard who had a similar role in “The Descendants”—he played the sleazy real estate agent who was having the affair with George Clooney’s wife. How ironic for Lillard! But he does play sleaze-balls well. This film is corny and predictable but still enjoyable. It moves slowly right up until the end when suddenly it kicks into gear and finishes with a flourish. I’m recommending it for Matinee viewing….something light, with funny parts and plenty of Eastwood playing his “Gran Torino” old guy/curmudgeon role. Adams is fine and solid, but not exciting, and the same can be said of Justin Timberlake, who basically adds some comedy and romantic charm to the piece. The folks in the theater where I saw this film gave it a thumbs-up. See what you think.