Whether an expert or a neophyte, lover or neutral on the sport of baseball “Trouble with the Curve” has no trouble pleasing all audiences. Clint Eastwood, the constant curmudgeon, once again hits it out of the ball park.
Eastwood’s “Gus” is an ageing, almost sightless scout for the Atlanta Braves; unlike his vision his instincts for the trade are 20/20; but he is competing with the “Moneyball” generation and refuses to cave to technology and accept obsolescence; he has to witness, listen, and go with his finely tuned, archival “gut”, in the scouting process; no man or machine can best him.
His boss and friend “Pete”( a seasoned, sensitive performance by John Goodman) recognizes his vicissitudes and enlists the aid of Gus’s daughter “Mickey” (terrific, feisty depiction by Amy Adams) nurtured by the game, shunned by her father after her mother’s death; a lawyer on the fast -track but knows and loves baseball and matches her father in fiery grit; the movie sizzles with their raunchy repartee; she surprises him in Ashville, N.C. on a scouting excursion, resulting in a volatile, heart-warming, heart-breaking, illuminating experience for both.
Justin Timberlake is “Jonny” an ex -baseball phenom now a scout for the Red Sox; a favorite of Gus’s who is instantly attracted to “Mickey” the wiz kid of sports trivia; shades of “Diner” but the roles are reserved; she is the master/ mistress of the game.
In the twenty-first century computers, statistics, are intrinsic, an ingredient in the contemporary world, regardless of the field; but nothing can replace the personal, visual, hands on, face- to- face encounter; how else to determine the manner a player clutches the bat? Traditionalists will be pleased to see a film where the digital succumbs to man’s judgment. Forecasting a marriage of both forces; maybe not equal but beneficial to all parties and more importantly, the game.
Yes, “Trouble with the Curve” is predictable; but predictability can be comforting, like turkey on Thanksgiving, that warm, stuffed highly anticipated elation, coming once a year; in an era of unpredictability, nothing is as satisfying, soothing as a prime, predictable film.