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Trouble with the Curve

December 12, 2012

Trouble with the Curve (2012)
Director: Robert Lorenz
Actors: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake

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Synopsis: Gus (Clint Eastwood) is a prickly old baseball scout, working for the Atlanta Braves, but in failing health. Some of the younger executives on that franchise want him out, so he’s sent on a ‘make or break’ scouting mission to scope out the latest amateur wunderkind prior to the draft. There he’s accompanied by his lawyer daughter (Amy Adams), he comes across a fellow, novice scout (Justin Timberlake), and his stunted personal development, as well as his baseball judgement, comes into sharp focus.

Review: This film shares the same traits as its central character, Gus (played in familiar gruff winterly tones by Clint Eastwood). It is conservative, sentimental, and shows remarkably leniency for Gus’s belligerent – some might say, unattractively hostile – ways. True, the film does hint at probing the pathology of Gus’ character and the prickly distance he keeps from his daughter, but in the end it’s fudged by a flashback that reveals that Gus was tragically traumatised by an incident that happened to his daughter when she was very young.

The film seems more content to act as an apologism for Gus/Eastwood’s old-school conservatism. We’re clearly meant to be on his side when he rails against the influence of computers on scouting missions, and his enemy is so clearly laid out in the reptilian construct of Matthew Lillard’s antagonist character. Gus receives his sentimental apogée when he defeats Lillard’s by the book judgement, in recommending the rejection of the wunderkind ecause he can ‘hear’ his swing (the ‘trouble with the curve’ of the title), and when he and his daughter condescendingly champion the talents of a freak-like, amateur Latin pitcher instead. (December 2012)

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