Yes, the man has made far more headlines for his current political stances and that now-memorable empty chair, but ever since 2002’s Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood the actor has clocked in performances one might call “Classic 21st Century Clint.”
Gruffled voice, tight-lipped smirks and grunts, steely-eyed glances–Eastwood has created a distinct caricature of what an old-man Clint would be like and he’s sticking to it, by God! And so goes the man’s performance in his latest effort, Trouble with the Curve.
The typical tropes you’ve come to expect from an Eastwood film at this point are there–a sad old man who begrudgingly tries to do what’s right by the child-figure who finagles their way into his life. These elements are preserved by Director Robert Lorenz, who was previously known as Eastwood’s assistant director on almost all of his films he’s directed himself. Sadly, there is truly nothing really new to see here.
Eastwood is Gus, a professional baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves that’s far past his prime but refuses to let a little old thing like onset blindness keep him from doing his job. Based on a friend’s concern (John Goodman alert!), Gus ends up hitting the road with his estranged daughter, Mickey (an always lovely Amy Adams), who helps him scout a player based on her learned knowledge of the sport and the job.
Along the way they encounter a fellow up-and-coming scouter in the form of Justin Timberlake, who just gets closer and closer to being a full-fledged good actor with another winning and charming performance.
Gus is unknowingly being watched and judged by younger colleagues within his clubhouse (one smarmy cohort is played with conviction by Matthew Lilliard), but together with his daughter, he moves forward on instinct.
It’s a simple story with no real, well, curve balls. There’s the romantic subplot between Timberlake and Adams, which could have potentially been a real mismatch if it weren’t for the sheer draw of both actors. Adams continues to build her resume with another dramatic turn here. She’s the sexy smart girl with an unparalleled knowledge of baseball and a law degree to boot. Pitting Timberlake against someone of that caliber should have thrown him off, but he easily sells the goodhearted former pro baller-turned-scout who’s just trying to “stay in the game.” Of course, what they can’t sell is the flat storyline that really lacks anything remotely unique or interesting. Again, we’re talking about a very simply film with very little originality.
If you’re looking for new classic Clint Eastwood, Trouble With the Curve is right up that alley, but you’ll likely be more entertained by Adams and Timberlake.
Trouble With the Curve hits theaters today, including the Renaissance Grand Lake Theater in Oakland.