Friday, 21 September 2012

Movie Review: "Trouble with the Curve"

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Trouble with the CurveThough Clint Eastwood’s performance at this year’s Republican National Committee was deemed questionable, his performance in his latest film, Trouble with the Curve, is not. Playing a baseball scout who is nearing the end of his career, Eastwood is rather convincing as a father who is interested in mending the broken relationship with his daughter. Trouble with the Curve is a wonderful story of redemption with an emphasis on a number of Christian values.

Gus (Clint Eastwood) is an aging baseball scout who has made a successful career for himself scouting for the Atlanta Braves. Even in the age of modern technology, he is able to effectively scout a player on his senses. He has the uncanny ability to determine whether a prospect has what it takes to enter into the major leagues based on what he sees and hears, and on a sense of the prospect’s heart and drive.

However, the most important tool on which his career lies, his eyes, are forcing him into retirement as Gus is going blind. The devastation of this news makes Gus a rather gruff and profane man.

Meanwhile, his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) is about to set off on her career, as she is about to be named a partner in her law firm.

Unfortunately, Gus’ relationship with his daughter is badly strained because Gus left Mickey in her time of need for long periods after Mickey’s mother had died.

Gus has just three months left on his contract, and he is asked to conduct a scout of a high school ballplayer on the rise. This slugger has already garnered a reputation for his athletic abilities and is a top choice of several teams as a first draft pick.

Unfortunately, the prospect being scouted seems to have no intentions of being a positive role model as he is obnoxiously arrogant. His motivation behind landing a baseball contract is to gain quick access to fame and fortune and women.

It is Gus’ last chance to prove himself before the expiration of his contract. The Braves are concerned that Gus’ failing eyesight may impact his ability to effectively scout the hotshot baseball player. Gus’ boss Pete (John Goodman) a close friend of Gus, also understands that the effort could be a strain on Gus, and asks Mickey to accompany her father on the trip.

Mickey recognizes the potential for such a trip to improve relations between herself and her father, so she decides to join her father as he scouts the high school baseball player, aware that her company is displeased with her absence. Something inside of her compels her to take this opportunity, as there have been so few before.

And despite Gus’ significant absences from Mickey’s life, Mickey managed to learn a lot from her father about baseball and about scouting during the period when she lived and traveled with him. After all, she was named after Mickey Mantle, so baseball is practically in her blood.

Also scouting the high school baseball player is Johnny, a new scout for a franchise, played by Justin Timberlake. Johnny is a former ball player who was originally scouted and signed by Gus.

Johnny is instantly intrigued by Mickey, who has difficulties dealing with closeness and opening herself up to a new friendship, likely because of the rejection she felt from her father. There are also some darker moments from Mickey’s past that make it difficult for her to trust others. Viewers learn of that time through a flashback.

But Johnny and Mickey begin to develop a relationship that is based primarily on baseball trivia contests.

They share another interest as well, and that is a concern for the emotional and physical wellness of Gus. They see the impact that his eyesight is having on his emotional state and are concerned that he may never recover from this blow.

The film is entertaining on a variety of levels. Of course, the athletic element is an interesting one, particularly to any viewers who take an interest in sports.

But the most significant focus of the film is Gus’ relationship with his daughter. It is the focus on this plot element that helps to drive home the film’s greatest theme, forgiveness.

Mickey is clearly affected by her father’s inability to shower her with the love and attention she so desperately craves from him. She is haunted by the memories of his abandonment, and Amy Adams does an excellent job of convincing the audience of this. She is quite endearing and likeable in this role.

Remarkably, despite the strains impacting their relationship, there is a very clear and deep love between Mickey and her father, and watching it as it reveals itself on the screen is a beautiful thing.

Another evident theme in the film that is certainly a worthwhile one is hubris. It does a wonderful job of underscoring just how much damage overbearing pride can cause.

Trouble with the Curve has the assets to be considered a good family film were it not for the abundance of foul language. In fact, the presence of such language may prompt some moviegoers to be disappointed by the film.

There is wonderful chemistry between Eastwood and Adams on-screen that makes for a believable story. Likewise, Eastwood’s cantankerous character proves to be quite humorous and an absolute pleasure to watch.

The film has all the necessary elements to pique the interest of a variety of moviegoers. From sports to romance to a profound understanding of a complex father/daughter relationship, it is hard to imagine a moviegoer who is not intrigued by at least one plot element. While the film’s story borders on corny, it is redeemed through effective performances, profound themes, and feel-good redemption.