In 2008, Clint Eastwood said he was done acting because he wanted to focus strictly on his craft behind the camera. This was right after his boldly self-reflexive and powerful performance in GRAN TORINO. Most of his fans were disappointed but accepting of the decision, mainly because that film was an end to a terrific 5-year run for Eastwood the director. During this time he made MYSTIC RIVER, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, and the ambitious WWII companion pieces FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, all of which helped the iconic Hollywood star cement his legacy as a truly great director as well.
It didn’t take long for Eastwood to backtrack on his announcement. Now, four years later, he's starring in TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, which opens this Friday. Unlike most of Eastwood’s more recent fare as director CURVE, the debut feature of longtime Eastwood producer Robert Lorenz, is simply high-quality, straightforward entertainment.
It tells the story of aging baseball scout Gus Lobel, a man who can’t admit that father time has finally caught up with him and is now affecting his job. The Atlanta Braves, the team Gus works for, have no problem with letting the once-great baseball mind go. Determined to prove his worth to the Braves and himself Gus decides to make a trip to see the hottest prospect in baseball. Enter Gus’ daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), a successful Atlanta lawyer whose relationship with her father has been anything but great. After Gus tells Mickey about his situation she decides, against her better judgment, to travel with him to help save the last years of his career even if it means losing her own.
With Gus Eastwood has another character that perfectly fits the persona he’s been crafting since the days he was acting in Spaghetti Westerns for Sergio Leone. And he’s surrounded by a terrific cast in Adams, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard and Justin Timberlake. TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE may not be anything groundbreaking, but one of its best attributes is that doesn’t try to be. It’s a simple, well told story with great performances, which makes it a rare species in Hollywood these days.
And we get to see Eastwood, the master of making audiences care about grizzled, flawed old men, one more time on the big screen. Lets hope it’s not the last. (RJ LaForce)
Here's what the nation's top critics are saying about TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE:
“As for Eastwood, he’s won plenty of awards behind the camera lately for the likes of Mystic River, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters to Iwo Jima, Invictus and Hereafter. But his new film is a reminder that what a Clint Eastwood movie really needs is Clint Eastwood in it. This time around he’s America with all its belligerence and flaws but with lessons still to learn and, perhaps, to teach. If the modest and moving Trouble With the Curve won’t overwhelm anybody, it’s still an engaging winner, like a junk-ball pitcher who stays in the bigs on grit and heart.” –Richard Corliss, TIME
“A superior entertainment, moving down somewhat predictable paths with an authenticity and humanity that appeals… If the story here has certain foreseeable moments, that's not to say they aren't set up well and deliver right on time… There are so many traffic jams in the typical recent hyperkinetic movie that to find a sound story this well told is a pleasure.” –Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“Of course the movie is sentimental. A fairy tale? Yes, it's that too. Satisfying? Yep… You don't go to "Trouble With the Curve" for a heavy dose of truth. You go for a little truth, and a little baseball, and the soothing reminder that things sometimes change for the better.” –Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
“Eastwood is vastly entertaining as an old-fashioned scout… The show belongs to Eastwood. In just his third acting gig in a decade, the star has a role not dissimilar to the old crank he played to such great success in Gran Torino and provokes similar laughs with his blunt assessments and pissed-off comments.” –Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter