‘Trouble With The Curve’
A cranky Clint Eastwood remains as watchable as ever as an old baseball scout on the verge of retirement in “Trouble with the Curve.”
This movie, however, is essentially the Anti-“Moneyball.” And if Eastwood ever met the real Billy Beane he’d likely tell him to stick his computer where the sun don’t shine. He’s become America’s favorite angry old coot, and he’s not afraid to embrace the onset of age.
The film opens with Eastwood talking to his penis, giving it a verbal beat-down while attempting to go to the bathroom. And the rest of the film finds him firmly in scowling “Get Off My Lawn” territory.
The film believes geeks crunching numbers and newfangled computer programs can’t hold a candle to the tried-and-true wisdom gained by watching and listening to the game on the field. It shows you what contempt Eastwood has for this new approach to the national pastime when I say the front-office hotshot looking to put Eastwood out to pasture is played by none other than Matthew Lillard. With this and “The Descendants” last year, he’s become Hollywood’s favorite hot shot due for a good ass-kicking.
Eastwood embraces a life on the road eating crappy food at roadside diners, staying in motor lodges and putting his ear to the ground to scout out potential superstars in their infancy. Eastwood’s eyes, ears, and his gut tell him all he needs to know about whether a player is going to make it. But the problem is, his ears are going, and his eyes are about gone. His gut’s still as sharp as ever, but a front- office pal (John Goodman) convinces Eastwood’s estranged, driven daughter (Amy Adams) to go down and help out her old man.
Adams gives an appealing performance, although she’s stuck sitting through a lot of forced melodrama that is about as predictable as a 3-2 fastball down the middle of the plate. Justin Timberlake acquits himself as an actor once more as a fellow scout who once was scouted by Eastwood as a player but blew out his career once he got traded.
I enjoyed watching Eastwood scowling from the grandstand in his high-waisted pants, but the rest of the film isn’t quite as sophisticated as it needs to be in a post-“Moneyball” world. It’s an unabashedly conventional piece of Hollywood hokum that asks us to embrace the crack of the bat instead of the lure of the stat, and largely fails to make its case.