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September 22, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST
In his first movie since 2008’s Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood is back on the silver screen in Trouble with the Curve. The movie’s all-American plot centers on the baseball diamond.
Eastwood’s character, Gus, is a disgruntled, aging baseball scout stuck in his ways. He refuses to use computers or statistics to help him scout players and will promptly curse out anyone who suggests this tactic. He is also too proud to admit his eyesight is beginning to fail, and he can no longer see bats, gloves or players clearly.
Gus’s daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), is forced to accompany him on his next important scouting trip to be his eyes. Gus and Mickey are somewhat estranged and constantly fight about Gus’s absence from Mickey’s childhood.
To illustrate Gus struggling to see, director Robert Lorenz uses blurry cinematography from the character’s point of view. This way, the viewer knows that Gus cannot see the batter at all and must rely on other senses. Lorenz also uses cinematography to spice up otherwise dull baseball scenes. When one character runs the bases, the camera spins in a tight circle to show both the bases and Gus’s reaction.
Trouble with the Curve might seem like a typical baseball plot in a litany of sports movies, but it is actually a game changer. The movie’s themes include the importance of personal intuition and life priorities rather than strikes and innings. To lighten up the movie’s heavy mood, the script also includes a bit of a love story between Mickey and a young scout played by Justin Timberlake. Timberlake serves as a romantic distraction and needed comedic relief from the darkness brewing between Eastwood and Adams’s characters.
The other actors in the movie sell the complexity of the characters’ relationships. Eastwood uses seething macho attitude in his typical gritty performance, while Adams captures the emotional nuances of the overworked and emotionally repressed Mickey. And pitchers’ throws aren’t the only curveballs in the storyline.
The character’s strong personalities and Gus’s fight against a changing world will interest viewers who crave drama, and the discussion of sports philosophy will engage any baseball fan. With an icon like Clint Eastwood, an underdog story and America’s favorite pastime, Trouble with the Curve knocks it out of the park.