Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trouble With the Curve

The opening sequence of Trouble With the Curve is of Clint Eastwood pleading with his penis, which may incite the church giggles from anyone who saw his jarring speech at the RNC this year.  This film stretches as much of the same, Clint is a crank, an old man at odds with everyone and everything.  He also reminds us, unlike at the convention, why he is an American treasure in every nook and cranny-- it's his no-nonsense demeanor that has made him such a formidable filmmaker and raise-all-hell as a performer that sparks.  Herein Robert Lorenz (an assistant director to Clint for many a moon) directs a pleasingly connect-the-dots formula film about baseball and family and casts him in a role that he can surely play in his sleep, but charms, seemingly without any effort at all.  Clint has little trouble with the curve, but the film has a bit of trouble with the familiar.  Part father\daughter melodrama, part man of a certain age yarn, part romantic comedy, and part anti-Moneyball baseball ode, Trouble With the Curve charts genre after genre and, while soft and smooth, can't quite manage to carry the weight of either, despite spirited performances and gently manufactured bits of emotional strife.

Eastwood plays Gus, a scout for the Atlanta Braves, and once a dominant force before computers and numbers, along with the pressures of his age started taking over his job.  He can hear a good swing, a good thing since his sight is going, and connect to the heart of player before he reaches first base.  He's also kind of a louse as a father; he's long suffering daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), a prominent attorney, can attest, long ago feeling abandoned when all she wanted was a front row baseball game seat with her pop.  With Gus' health a more concerning factor, Mickey reluctantly travels along with dad to scout a new, seemingly ace player, and demons from the past start to come to surface.  Adams is radiant in, again, a role that likely came fairly easy to her.  She charms and banters and bitters with Eastwood with ease, and the two of them create a nicely calibrated pitter-patter, back and forth of dig, resentment and need for acceptance that feels as organic as the dialogue does arch.  What stands in the way is both of their characters stubbornness and the scripts incessant need to keep things running past its course.  Fellow baseball connoisseur Johnny (Justin Timberlake) complicates things only in his desire to romance Mickey.

What fits like a glove is the brittle rapport between Eastwood and Adams.  What separates the film from being a bona-fide crowd-pleaser, from the middling loft down the middle piece of cheese it is is the earnest, familiar tracks from director Lorenz and first time screenwriter Randy Brown, that hone down everything in such a succinct way, that it may well have been a Lifetime movie of the week.  B-

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...