Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Trouble With The Curve

It's not impossible that critics (and some amateur reviewers) were unswayed by Eastwood's speech to an empty chair at the RNC when reviewing Trouble With The Curve but I wouldn't put any money on it. The criticism, raised also by The Boy, is that it's "by the numbers". And it's true, there aren't a lot of surprises in this film.

The Flower loved it. Doubtless because she's an Eastwood fan (Gran Torino is the movie by which all others are measured) but also doubtless because it's not stale for her.

However, I also loved it, and I'll get to why after a quick capsule.

Trouble With The Curve is the story of a baseball scout (Eastwood) who's losing his vision and being threatened by an up-and-coming geeky number cruncher (Matthew Lillard of Scooby-Doo). His longtime bud and team manager (John Goodman, The Artist) goes to bat for him with the Big Boss (Robert Patrick, Autopsy), but then asks his daughter (Amy Adams, Sunshine Cleaning Company) to tag along with him to North Carolina, where a hot young slugger is coming up from the minors. On the road, they meet a charming young scout (Justin Timberlake, In Time).

The father/daughter relationship is the key thing here. Widowed when his daughter was only six, Eastwood's Gus dragged his daughter Mickey with him from state to state, and game to game, until deciding to send her to an aunt and uncle, then later to boarding school. Mickey's still wrestling with the feelings from this, having gotten a law degree and spent seven years with 6-day-a-week-workweeks trying to get a partnership in a Big Law Firm.

As I said, there's no real surprise here; it felt like an old school Hollywood film. Almost all the characters are likable and even the small parts are played by familiar faces like George Wyner and Chelcie Ross.

So, why did I like it so much? The relationship between Gus and Mickey is excellently done. First, big props to Amy Adams, who is by turns a tough lawyer, a vulnerable woman, a little girl, a sassy teen—she basically plays out a lifetime in this one role. Eastwood does a similar trick, by turns seeming like his old self (say, ca. 1980), imposing and sorta dangerous, but at other times frail and unbelievably old.

The brilliance of this movie is in the direction and camerawork that plays all these ages of Gus and Mickey against each other. Eastwood and Adams have a wonderful chemistry and, perhaps surprisingly for a Clint Eastwood movie, the film is a character study and an acting showcase, and it kept me captivated through the satisfyingly predictable story arc.

Timberlake is good, too. I feel like I have to mention that because every time I read a review of a movie with him in it, they say "Justin Timberlake is really talented, dammit!" (I guess the rancor is due to his early success as a teen heartthrob or his deflowering of Britney, but I think it's time to let that go. Dude can act and is unsurprisingly convincing as a charming suitor.)

This is the first time at the helm for frequent Eastwood assistant director, Robert Lorenz, and it reminds a bit of The Thing From Another World, in the sense that the '50s sci-fi horror flick had Howard Hawks' fingerprints all over it, just as this has many of Eastwood's trademarks.

Not a bad thing, in either case.

I can't say it's for everyone because some people couldn't care less about the character studies. But we all enjoyed it, even if the Boy felt it was slow in parts.

9 comments:

  1. Blake, I'll go see it but I'm not a fan of Amy Adams, and I despise Timberlake.

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  2. Well, that could be a problem, there. It's a lot of Amy Adams! And a fair amount of Timberlake!

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  3. Amy Adams

    I was ready to see the movie, until I saw her face.

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  4. Wow, a lotta Amy Adams hate here!

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  5. Everybody’s good, but the story was nothing worth recommending one bit. It’s a pleasant enough time, but could have been a whole lot better. Good review Blake.

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  6. What's with all the nasty commentary? Amy Adams is one of the most talented, charming (and naturally attractive) women in films. She's also a down to earth person who doesn't seek tabloid attention like most other celebs. Honestly, it's one thing to not want to see the film but Amy is a classy woman. Get a life, people.

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  7. Welcome, Dan O.

    I sees you gotcherself one of them "movie blogs" of your own.

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  8. Went to sewe the flick. Quite formulaic and predictable. But, I liked it well enough because of Clint and Goodman. Adams was tolerable as was pretty boy. Anonymous, I'll take your scolding to heart regarding Adams. She wes good in the boxing flick and decent in this one. I'll open my mind, however I think she's just somewhat attractive w/ no rack.

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  9. Great Review Blake. I agree. I loved it. I love Justin Timberlake, not as a singer boy band guy but as a comedian. He's so good on SNL. The reason he was better here than in other films is he kind of played himself. He had some funny lines & stuff. Amy Adams was good as always and Eastwood was stellar. I also loved the camera work.

    This is no academy award winner (though Eastwood's performance is deserving of a nod) but it was a really good enjoyable film, especially if you're a baseball fan. I completely suspect that bad reviews were because of his empty chair speech.

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