There was a time when baseball scout Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) was the go-to guy in his profession. But now his eyesight’s shot, his contract with the Atlanta Braves is almost up, and a computer-savvy upstart (Matthew Lillard at his smarmiest) is gunning for his crusty elder’s job. Gus has one more recruiting expedition in which to prove himself; word has it there’s a talented hitter in North Carolina who may be Braves material. But fate (or screenwriter contrivance) won’t let Gus go it alone: His semi-estranged daughter, lawyer Mickey (Amy Adams), decides to accompany the crotchety coot to keep watch over him.
You can predict almost every narrative beat of this old-man-makes-amends schmaltzfest, from the chilly initial encounters between father and daughter to the quietly redemptive climax in which Grandpa proves he’s still got it (and steals the final line from Midnight Run, the cheeky sonuvabitch!). Fortunately, first-time director and frequent Eastwood producer Robert Lorenz seems less interested in the story’s overall mawkishness than in relishing the stellar cast he’s assembled. The best scenes in Trouble with the Curve are the leisurely ones at field-side, in which old-pro performers like Ed Lauter, Robert Patrick and John Goodman hold their own against Eastwood’s every cantankerous gibe. (An empty chair, appropriately enough, doesn’t fare as well.) Alternatively, Adams gets a delectable onscreen partner in Justin Timberlake as a novice scout who takes an interest in Mickey. Even the old half-naked-moonlight-swim gambit feels fresh with these two involved.
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