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Film review: TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, from Built For Speed

Baseball films have a unique place within the sports film genre as they seem to embody American culture and mythology like no other. Even for those who don’t like the sport itself, baseball films seem to have at least some sort of folksy appeal.

So it is with Clint Eastwood’s latest film (this time just as an actor) Trouble with the Curve.  This is a lightweight mix of baseball film, family drama and ageing parable that drifts along at what could charitably be described as a pedestrian pace.  It’s not exactly electrifying or even an edge of the seat, do or die sports film but it still pulls you into its laid back world.

In this film Clint plays pretty much the same character he’s been portraying for a decade now, the cantankerous widower who has an iconic, leathery, old school American job such as a boxing trainer, marine or in this film, a baseball scout named Gus.  As in all his recent films, the irascible Clint belligerently defies any cultural or technological changes that have occurred in America since 1958, much to the annoyance of his family.   His already fractious relationship with his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) is put to the test when she discovers Gus’s eyesight is failing and despite the pressures of her job as a lawyer, Mickey insists on accompanying him on his latest scouting tour.

The script here is pretty predictable and sign posts most of the key scenes well in advance.  We know within about five minutes who’s going to triumph and which obnoxious gits are going to get their comeuppance.   Still, it’s fun watching Clint bicker with Adams, sneer at oily yuppies who want to replace him with a computer and generally plays the grizzled but wily old curmudgeon to the hilt.

A strong supporting cast also help add credibility to a fairly insubstantial story. Amy Adams lights up the screen with her usual sparkling performance even if the sub-plot about her love interest with a young baseball scout (Justin Timberlake) lacks fizz.  John Goodman is likeable as always playing Eastwood’s loyal buddy.  Matthew Lillard, the man who has played perhaps most obnoxious characters in cinema (just re-watch Scream and Hackers and you’ll know what I mean), is kind of obvious as the resident weasel but it’s good to see Clint growl at him contemptuously.

With its familiar storyline and characters this is a likeable film rather than a challenging or riveting one.

 

Nick’s rating: Three stars.

Classification: M

Director(s): Robert Lorenz

Release date: 6th Dec 2012

Running time:  111 mins.

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