Rated: PG-13 (strong language, sexual references, thematic material, smoking); 111 min.
Trouble With the Curve is a baseball dramedy that telegraphs its pitches, an amiable, meandering character study whose big plot points hang there like the curveballs of its title.
It has the faded twinkle of late-period Clint Eastwood, rasping through another curmudgeon role -- embracing, one more time, his role as America's Coot. The film has its charm, but it's neither as graceful nor as spare as a movie Eastwood himself would have directed.
Clint plays a chatty old cuss named Gus Lobel, legendary scout for the Atlanta Braves. His boss (John Goodman) ticks off the superstars he discovered and insists "Gus could spot talent from an airplane."
But Gus is an anachronism, a "feel" and "sound" guy in an age of computer-accessible statistics. And he's losing his sight. The new punk in the clubhouse (Matthew Lillard of The Descendants) wants him put out to pasture.
Gus has an ambitious, flinty and blunt daughter (Amy Adams), a 33-year-old lawyer not unlike him. She's gunning for partnership in an Atlanta firm and has ambivalent (at best) feelings for the old man, but is somehow cajoled into joining Gus for one last spring scouting trip to the Carolinas. That feels contrived because it is.
That's not saying that Trouble doesn't have its charms. Like baseball itself, it is meant to feel out of its time.
But the pastiche they piece together here wears on the patience and will have all but Eastwood's most diehard fans staring at their watches before the seventh-inning stretch.
-- Roger Moore,
McClatchy-Tribune News Service