Few things bring about nostalgia Americana like high school baseball, hot dogs, small town diners, honkytonks and a Clint Eastwood Western. Throw in a couple of classic muscle cars, too, and you have Eastwood’s latest, “Trouble with the Curve.”
“But wait,” you might say, “I didn’t know Clint Eastwood’s new movie was a Western.”
Well, it is and it isn’t.
It’s actually a movie about baseball, growing old and reconciling with the people nearest to us who have also hurt us the deepest.
But like the old Westerns, the good guys are good guys, the bad guys are clowns, there’s a faithful old friend who saves the day and a renegade youngster who sees the light and gets the girl in the end. The good guys also stand in the dusty street, stare down the bad guys, and when the smoke from the shootout clears, there’s only the hero left standing.
For all those reasons, “Trouble with the Curve” is a home run of a movie.
The theater in my town was filled for the film, largely with an audience who still remembered when baseball was America’s pastime and who could relate to Eastwood’s frustrating foibles with growing older.
Many were the laughs shared by the graying audience, and even a whippersnapper like me thoroughly enjoyed the film. It’s not terribly original or likely to garner Oscars, but “Trouble with the Curve” is entertaining, occasionally funny, often heartwarming and just a decent, feel-good movie.
Eastwood’s performance in the film as an “outdated” baseball scout who is losing his eyesight and his reputation is stellar, and John Goodman’s role as his longtime friend lends a great supporting touch. Amy Adams doesn’t do her best work here, but she’s very believable as Eastwood’s daughter, who grew up trying anything she could to please her now estranged daddy. Adams and Eastwood are simply charming together.
There are a few moments in the film that are unnecessarily crass and a few when the director went a bit overboard trying to elicit emotions. I really didn’t like the depiction of the bad guys as so obviously bad as to be mere caricatures instead of real characters.
Nonetheless, the painful reconciliation and redemptive story between father and daughter makes “Trouble with the Curve” shine.
At one point, the daughter is reminded that in baseball a player is considered a superstar if he succeeds at the plate but 3 out of 10 times. Instead of giving up on her cantankerous old codger of a father, she’s told, she should put those other seven failed attempts behind her and swing again. The way she responds, the courage and love she shows for her dad, is beautiful.
And when her courage finally causes that hardened old nut of a dad to crack … well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. There’s a twist to the story at the end that really tugs on the heart strings.
Though not without a few faults and not terribly original, “Trouble with the Curve” is still the kind of film most movie audiences in America really want to see: powerful, positive, redemptive and fun. Clint Eastwood has come through in the clutch again and shown he’s one player who isn’t ready to be “put out to pasture” just yet.
“Trouble with the Curve,” rated PG-13, contains about 70 obscenities and profanities. Most are the less severe variety, but still, there are several moments in the movie where the cussing just wasn’t necessary and detracted from the script.
The film contains some sexual references and innuendos, a scene where a man is urinating at a toilet, some sexual aggression by a drunk bar patron, a reference to sexual abuse and some kissing. There are, however, no sex scenes. The only “nudity” is a bit of cleavage and a scene where an adult couple strips down to their underwear and runs off a pier to jump in a lake.
The film has a few violent moments, including a car accident, a flashback of a fist fight and a scene in a bar where one man pins another against the wall and threatens to kill him. None of these are overly stylized or gruesome, but merely present as part of the storyline.
The film has a few religious references, including writing on a tombstone and a joke about God “misunderstanding” a prayer, but no occult references.