Gus, the grumpy baseball scout played by Clint Eastwood maybe a character you have seen the thespian play over the last two decades in many variations, but boy can the man still command a screen each time he steps into the frame. Back from after four years from his self imposed exile from acting, Eastwood at the age of 82 is still endearing as ever. If not for his imaginary conversation with Obama sometime back, the man would have received more favourable press for this movie.
Gus (Clint Eastwood) is an aging baseball scout, who despite his failing eyesight is assigned on a scouting trip to North Carolina. Gus's boss, Pete (John Goodman) asks his estranged daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to tag along simply because of Gus's deteriorating health. Mickey who never sees eye to eye with her father and rightly so since he kind of abandoned her as a kid reluctantly agrees to the trip, jeopardising her chances of imminent success at her own workplace. In addition to his stubbornness, Gus has a point to prove about old-school baseball scouting methods that are endangered by a new computer analysis system promoted by slick, greasy kid, Philip (Matthew Lillard) which claims to be more effective. Somewhere along the way, their paths cross with a younger talent scout, Johnny (Justin Timberlake) who is the love-interest Mickey probably requires in the structures of a movie like this. The movie's ending is slightly conventional but I guess it's well earned.
If you remember 'Moneyball', then 'Trouble With the Curve' functions as some sort of emotional anti-thesis to the former; If that was sleek new digital, then this is reliable old analog. While 'Moneyball' despite its emotional pandering, stuck to the idea of Billy Beane, that baseball scouting traditional methods were flawed and the real deal lay in cold hard facts about players that needed to be analysed to make a winning team. 'Trouble With The Curve' romanticises the human factor, the age, the experience that baseball scouts bring to their field in picking players, something the movie claims a computer can never do accurately. The 'David Vs Goliath' setup between Gus and Philip is designed to make you root for the underdog but it never gives a chance to the other guy to present his case effectively, just makes him look like the bad guy.
The movie's humour can be kind of brash and brawny but keeping the characters in mind it fits in perfectly. The cinematography is simple without being breathtaking and keeps things bright and warm to make the movie feel warm and homely.
The movie's heart and soul lies with Clint Eastwood; be it the heartbreaking scene when he visits his wife's grave or verbally jousts with Philip or shares some awkward moments with his daughter trying reconcile. The script gives him ample material to play with his chemistry with the excellent Amy Adams who's been turning in one great performance after another. Justin Timberlake on the other hand seems a little underutilised but is charming enough in his performance to make up for the underwritten role.
'Trouble with the Curve' is one of the best movies of the year, despite its old-school approach to filmmaking. This is a solid, effective movie filled with excellent performances from the two leads, witty lines to bring a smile to your face and enough real emotion to maybe make you choke up a little. Don't miss it.view less