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TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE

SYNOPSIS:
Gus (Clint Eastwood) is a baseball scout with eye problems. He can't see the baseball go over home plate. His long time friend and associate Pete (John Goodman) convinces Gus's daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to put her job as a lawyer on hold to go on a recruiting trip with him. It might be his last if Gus can't make the right call.

Review by Louise Keller:
Pointing to her head and her heart, when Amy Adams' Mickey indicates that 'you've got to have it in both places' she could well be referring to the qualities of this film. An intelligent script from first time screenwriter Randy Brown with a strong emotional heart, Trouble With The Curve is one of those films that resonates on every level, elevated by the perfect casting of Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake. It's involving and moving, with some laugh-aloud lines and characters that we genuinely care about. Although we might instinctively know the direction the film is taking, its considerable pleasures are in the journey itself.

The subject matter may be baseball, but the crux of the story is about the delicate father daughter relationship at its core. Direct communication may not be their strongpoint, but we learn that words are not always necessary to convey the most crucial of things.

It is hard to find much more to say in praise of Clint Eastwood but rest assured, his performance here will not disappoint. For once, it is not Eastwood in the director's chair but Robert Lorenz, with whom Eastwood collaborated (in his roles of producer and second unit director) for films that include Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River and Bridges of Madison County. Displaying his lack of vanity, unafraid to show his age or depict a gruff, ageing baseball scout in Gus who is clearly past his prime, Eastwood is utterly convincing. The scene in which he sings 'You Are My Sunshine' as he pours himself a consolatory glass of beer at his wife's grave, autumn's burnt ochre leaves strewn on the ground around him, is devoid of sentimentality, yet moving to the extreme - in its simple, yet telling description.

Amy Adams is an actress who has it all and can play any role with her instinctive talent, immediate appeal and tangible emotional state. She goes from strength to strength, excelling as the ambitious promotion-seeking lawyer Mickey, who fills her life multi-tasking to hide the hurt that results from the communication breakdown with her father. She is good at keeping safe distances. Her tentative romantic relationship with an intern may look perfect on paper, but there is clearly an element missing; like Gus's argument that the analytical computer programme that boasts its ability to replace the baseball scout's role, cannot identify something that only the human eye or ear - or heart - can detect.

The burgeoning relationship between Mickey and former potential baseball star Johnny (Justin Timberlake) has that indefinable and incomprehensible spark that ignites between two people and Adams and Timberlake are great together. Timberlake is especially good and special moments include a first kiss during a late night dip and a spontaneous dance to evocative jazz, played by a black musician on a street bench. John Goodman is also a solid presence as Gus' long time friend and colleague.

The film plays like a graph that rises and falls with our emotions. I loved every minute of this uplifting, passionate film, leaving us well satisfied.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Trouble with the film, if you'll excuse the cheap wordplay, is that it's not a Clint Eastwood film. He's in it as the star, but he's not in it with his heart and his filmmaking soul. Even his performance is below par, a rather perfunctory portrait of a grumpy old man - not a complex character plagued with the onset of ageing, self doubt and parenting demons to chase away, as he should be.

The screenplay strives to make Gus (Eastwood) and his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) the emotional centre, but it muddies their history. On the one hand, Mickey complains of her father having been absent since her mother's early death, being palmed off to aunties and uncles - "rejected". On the other hand she has spent so much time travelling with him on talent spotting tours she knows more about baseball than the entire club crew Gus works for. This relationship thread is not successfully established nor developed. Mickey gives up a significant legal job at her firm, with its risk of losing a partnership spot, readily enough to help her father whose sight is wobbling. That she does so suggests that she has already reconciled with him - which makes her outburst later in the film come too late. Perhaps that should have come first, when old time friend Pete (John Goodman) first asks her to travel with Gus as his eyes.

There remains far too much baseball for those outside the baseball world for us to really connect, especially as so much of the dialogue about the sport is couched in baseball jargon.

Producer Robert Lorenz, a long time associate of Eastwood's, makes his directing debut and a couple of basic errors of judgment: to show how crappy Gus' eyesight is and how grumpy he is, he has Gus stumble over his own furniture and then make a mess of reversing out of his own garage, scraping the car here and there and everywhere. It's all too heavy handed and unnecessary.

Mickey's crumbling romance with a rather dull cardboard person is not credible, and serves only to allow Johnny (Justin Timberlake) to start wooing her - another layer all to obviously a device in the screenplay. But at least Timberlake makes Johnny a credible and likeable character. It's just not enough to make this a satisfying work.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (M)
(US, 2012)

CAST: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Chelcie Ross, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake Raymond Anthony Thomas, Ed Lauter, Clifton Guetrman, Carla Fisher, George Wyner, Bob Gunton, Jack Gilpin, Matthew Lillard,

PRODUCER: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Michele Weisler

DIRECTOR: Robert Lorenz

SCRIPT: Randy Brown

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tom Stern

EDITOR: Joel Cox, Gary Roach

MUSIC: Marco Beltrami

PRODUCTION DESIGN: James J. Murakami

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: NSW, VIC: December 6, 2012







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