Eastwood fields the 'Curve'
Forget about the trouble with the chair.
There's no trouble with Clint Eastwood in "Trouble with the Curve."
Eastwood is as delightfully cantankerous as ever as an elderly baseball scout named Gus who still pours over stacks of newspapers rather than log onto the computerized "Moneyball" statistical analysis approach to assess high school, college and other Major League Baseball prospects.
Whereas "Moneyball" was mostly about "the show," playing big league in major cities, "Trouble with the Curve" takes place in a small-town North Carolina town where a hot high school prospect, a slugger named Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill), is pursued by several baseball scouts, including Gus, for the Atlanta Braves, and by Johnny (Justin Timberlake), a former 100 mph major league pitcher.
When Gus is diagnosed with glaucoma, his daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), takes time off from a big-league case of her own at an Atlanta law firm, where she's vying for partner, to tag along with Gus, and be a second set of eyes for him.
Gus and Mickey have all kinds of unresolved problems, the least of which is that her father named her after Mickey Mantle. Like a good curveball pitcher, Gus plays the corners of home plate. He just can't seem to tell it like it is in the strike zone to his daughter.
Added problems arise in the storyline when Johnny can't seem to even get to first base with Mickey. She's emotionally unavailable. And she's just not a player. Johnny says he's willing to wait.
"Trouble with the Curve" has a nice twist late in the game, not unlike when the trailing team rallies in the bottom of the ninth to pull out an amazing win, providing rousing, emotional and satisfying results for its characters, the storyline and movie-goer.
Director Robert Lorenz, longtime Eastwood first assistant director, second-unit director and Oscar-nominated producer ("Letters from Iwo Jima," "Mystic River") steps up to the plate and, if he doesn't hit it out of the park, puts a "W" up there on the scoreboard. The screenplay is by first-timer Randy Brown.
Eastwood, often speaking in a rasp or barely above a whisper, is a growly presence as Gus, flinty-eyed, with clenched-teeth, jutting jaw and bent-body sauntering gait like that of wounded bear. You don't want to cross his path.
Adams creates a crisp, professional, almost somber presence as Mickey the attorney which doesn't mask her considerable charm. She and Eastwood are a hoot in their scenes. Adams has great chemistry with Timberlake, who adds yet another fine performance to his resume.
"Trouble with the Curve" tells a simple story and tells it well. America's favorite past-time is well-served. And Clint Eastwood is once again cinema's "Mr. October."
"Trouble with the Curve," MPAA Rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking; Genre: Drama; Run time: 111 min.; Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Credit Readers Anonymous: "Trouble with the Curve," though set in South Carolina, was filmed in Georgia.
Box Office, Sept. 27: "Hotel Transylvania" scared up $43 million, to open at No. 1, keeping "Looper" opening at No. 2, $21.2 million.
3. "End of Watch," $8 million, $26.1 million; two weeks; 4. "Trouble with the Curve," $7.5 million, $23.7 million, two weeks; 5. "House at the End of the Street," $7.1 million, $22.2 million, two weeks; 6. "Pitch Perfect," $5.2 million, opening; 7. "Finding Nemo," $4 million, $36.4 million, three weeks; 8. "Resident Evil: Retribution," $3 million, $38.7 million, three weeks; 9. "The Master," $2.7 million, $9.6 million, three weeks; 10. "Won't Back Down," $2.7 million, opening
Unreel, Oct. 5: "Taken 2," PG-13: Liam Neeson is back in the action-thriller that also stars Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace.
"Frankenweenie," PG: A boy brings his dog, Sparky, back to life in the Tim Burton-directed animated horror film, with voices by Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short, based on Burton's early short film.
"The Paperboy," R: A reporter back home in Florida investigates the case of a death-row inmate in the thriller starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack and Zac Efron.
"The Oranges," R: Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener and Allison Janney star in the romantic comedy about the testing of two families' friendship.
"Butter," R: Jennifer Garner stars in the comedy as a small-town Iowa girl with a talent for butter-carving.
Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, tnonline.com, and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Lehigh Valley Community Public Radio WDIY 88.1 FM, wdiy.org. Email Paul Willistein pwillistein@ tnonline.com and on Facebook.