Movies and sports has been a great marriage for many, many years now and baseball has proven to be the chosen bride. With more classic baseball films on record than any other sport it makes for a perfect story. It’s a game made for the big screen with close plays and near grand romance, sometimes it just writes itself.
Clint Eastwood is not the name that comes to mind when you think baseball movies or sports movies in general with only one other one under his belt (Million Dollar Baby) and that one worked out really well for him.
This year Eastwood returns to the screen under a director that isn’t himself for the first time in 19 years. Clint plays Gus Lobel in the film Trouble With The Curve in his longtime second unit director’s main directing debut.
Gus is an old school baseball scout who is slowly being pushed out of the game that is his love and his life by computer analysis, his age and health. When long time directing scout and friend Pete suspects something isn’t right with Gus, he calls his daughter in for help. The relationship between Gus and his daughter Mickey, (named after the famed Mickey Mantle) played by the lovely Amy Adams, is strained to say the least. When Mickey reluctantly agrees to join Gus on the road to help scout a possible number one draft pick, the past, present and future come crashing together. Mickey soon meets a scout new to the game in an ex-player formerly scouted by her father in Johnny played by the surprising acting talent, Justin Timberlake.
The story is not one of suspense or mystery but is at times predictable, yet none the less a nearly perfectly told story that leaves you wanting to see every frame of the next scene despite knowing what may be on the horizon.
Last years Moneyball was a great look at the new direction baseball and even sports is taking, but seemed to discount a certain aspect…people. Trouble With The Curve, although unintentional, feels like a direct rebuttal to Moneyball. While Moneyball is baseball’s science side, Trouble With The Curve is baseball’s heart.
Eastwood plays a more light hearted version of his outstanding character from Gran Torino but is equally up to the challenge and brilliantly pulls off the aged man bitter at his age.
Not to be ignored, are the other main characters in Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake and the actor who may be, the most natural and one of the best comedic actors of our time in, John Goodman. All three deliver in a way that leaves you feeling the insides of each character.
This film may not go down as one of the greatest baseball movies or even make a top 10 of the year list, outside of mine, but it can’t help but lift you up and make you feel something inside. It’s not a work of art but do not discount this film come award season. It’s title is one you will hear among different nominees.
The film proves one thing and that is Eastwood is still and always will be, Hollywood royalty. The man makes gold on every level when he attaches himself to a project. He’s still the ultimate tough guy and can have his on-screen heart melted like no other. Sports fans and anyone who wants to feel good would be remiss to not make their way to Trouble With The Curve.