Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Trouble With The Curve

Title: Trouble With The Curve

You're Not Going To Make Untoward Comments About Clint's Appearance At The Republican National Convention, Are You? How dare you? As a professional movie critic, I'm insulted at the implication I would resort to such cheap tactics.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two empty rocking chairs out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Venerable baseball scout is getting too old for this shit. Daughter agrees.

Tagline: "Whatever life throws at you."

Better Tagline: "Get off my outfield!"

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Atlanta Braves scout Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) is old. How old is he? He's so old, he doesn't own a computer! He's so old, he has trouble urinating! He's so old, he may be suffering from a degenerative eye condition that threatens his livelihood! You get the idea. He's joined on what may be his last scouting trip by semi-estranged daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), an up-and-coming lawyer desperate to connect with her crusty old dad. And maybe nail that rival scout played by Justin Timberlake while she's at it.

"Critical" Analysis: I am a Clint Eastwood fan. I do not, as the Bobs might say, "celebrate his entire catalog" (Firefox? The Rookie?), but I have a deep and abiding appreciation for a career that includes the likes of Leone's spaghetti westerns, Kelly's Heroes, Dirty Harry, High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven and In the Line of Fire, to name a few. Throw in his formidable directing efforts and it's clear the man has nothing to prove. And coming at it from that angle, Trouble with the Curve makes perfect sense. Rather than break new ground, Eastwood seems like he's finally ready to rest on his laurels and fully embrace the crotchety pain in the ass he's become.

The character of Gus is staring obsolescence in the face, his old-fashioned style inexorably going the way of the Dodo in the age of high-tech statistical analysis and "type A" talent men like the young gun in the Braves' organization trying to force Gus out. This character is played by Matthew Lillard. And as with every movie the actor appears in, the character's name might as well be "Matthew Lillard." I believe the term "Matthew Lillard" is also used in most reference works to denote any hyper-aggravating person whom you'd like to punch repeatedly in the kidneys.

Where was I? Gus' contract is about to expire, and it looks increasingly unlikely the Braves will pick him back up. That is unless he brings in a high school prospect named Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill), a free-swinging phenom (who also happens to be a massive horse's ass). The Braves have the #1 pick in the upcoming MLB draft, and pressure is mounting on Gus to sign off on Gentry so they can take him before another team does. Another team like...the Boston Red Sox, who have their own scout Johnny Flanagan (Timberlake) on the scene. Flanagan has a friendly history with Gus, who recruited him for the Braves when he was a young pitcher. It doesn't take an advanced screenwriting degree to see potential conflict on the horizon.

Though why the Braves would be freaking out about a team that's not even in the National League, much less in their division, snapping up Gentry makes little sense.

Trouble with the Curve is a movie for the AARP crowd: the jokes are aimed squarely at those over retirement age, the conflict between father and daughter is mild and stems more from a decades-old misunderstanding than anything sinister, the guy gets the girl (after a suitably chaste nightswimming scene...seriously, Adams leaves her t-shirt on), and rather than ask why an elderly gentleman with failing eyesight is driving a car, the ensuing crash and its aftereffects are played mostly for laughs. There's nothing wrong with this, and if you take your parents or grandparents to see it, they'll probably have a lovely time. Anyone under the age of 60 will probably be spending a good deal of time checking their watch, however.

Trouble with the Curve is in theaters today. Seriously, the AL East and NL East are completely different, and Gentry seems more like a DH, so why does Atlanta even...oh, never mind.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar