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Monday, October 1, 2012

"Trouble with the Curve" - Thank you Clint Eastwood

Amy Adams, Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake in "Trouble with the Curve"
What a fun, fun film. It may be that anything with Clint Eastwood's name attached is a guarantee of a good night at the movies. I almost didn't go to this one because I've felt afraid of baseball movies ever since I fell asleep twice during the overly talk-y "Moneyball."
(There are no spoilers in this review.)

"Trouble with the Curve" has a plot you can follow, with almost-equal parts grit, humor, and heartwarming stuff. There's a beautifully sensual scene that suggests a sexual romp without the requisite hump-de-hump you find in so many films today.

The story follows a codger (Eastwood) and his daughter (Adams) as they scout a new player for the Atlanta Braves. That's the framework for the real story: a daughter persuading her dad to finally talk about some rough times in the past.

I grew up in Milwaukee and remember the thrill of the Braves winning the 1957 World Series, so it was a kick when the movie camera panned some wall photos of Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron, and Eddie Matthews inside an inner office of the Atlanta Braves. I still have a fuzzy black-and-white photo of Hank Aaron with his arm around me on picture day in County Stadium, similar to the photo in the movie.

John Goodman plays John Goodman, eminently likeable. Justin Timberlake plays Justin Timberlake, also eminently likeable. Amy Adams is sweet as always. I'm amazed at how she can make her eyes get watery and red on demand, and how she maintains such Breck-Girl-every-strand-in-place hair.

All the major characters are likeable except Clint Eastwood's codger, who growls like he did in "Gran Torino," just not quite as often. His ragged voice is kind of hard to listen to, but he's so dang cool that I listened and enjoyed him anyway. His pants are slung a little lower than in "Gran Torino," a good thing. And of course you'll like Clint's character even though he's not likeable.

There's one bad guy and one stooge who are each one-dimensional; it's clear you're meant to despise them and not feel sorry for them if/when something bad happens to them. A bit cartoonish. Amy Adams's voice gets a bit whiney, but she probably can't control it any more than Clint can control his growl. I did get tired of watching Amy storm out of rooms time after time... although her pretty red hair does bounce nicely.

For a refreshing non-stereotype, there's a surprising dance scene that makes clogging look cool instead of very un-.

A nice thing: the camera never lingers over-long on any of the leads. So unlike "Moneyball," where the camera can't seem to get unstuck as Brad Pitt constantly poses like "The Thinker." (Same thing happened in "Troy," where the camera stuck to him posing like a mystical hero.)

See if you can figure out the third act twist. You may see it coming early on. I felt very smug after I whispered my prediction to my husband and later found I was right. Ooh, I love that feeling.

The movie is pure entertainment. Enjoy it.

Teacher Gail movie grade: A.

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