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Trouble with the Curve (2012)

CRUMBLIES… 4 crumblies

There are more telling insights into an old man taking a piss in the first ten minutes of this film than the last hundred years of cinema. And, ooooooooohhhhhhhhh, it’s so good for this octogenarian’s ego to see Clint Eastwood embracing the power of his rebellious prostate. Cos Dirty Harry can’t get the bullets flowing, as it were. Just like the rest of us, bitch, I thought. Then his macular degeneration kicks in. Then he takes it out on an innocent table. Glorious – the story will hardly have started and you’ll be in love with Eastwood’s old Gus in Trouble with the Curve.

It’s a baseball term, apparently, which is a lot like cricket. Balls can be bowled – or simply thrown in the Americas – to screw over the batsperson with a spin or a twist. Old Jack was never into sports, so pardon my dilettante’s terminology. And – I’m guessing – the curve is a bit like old age and family relationships. For old Gus, a baseball scout who travels lousy hotels looking for league-standard youths to pitch or bat, is a grumpy old fuck who can’t express himself. Never could; certainly not since his wife dropped dead in the ’80s. And absolutely not with the wonderfully accessible Amy Adams as his daughter Mickey.

Gus is failing. The macular, the prostate, the temperament et al are going to take him to the floor. His boss, pre-diet John Goodman as Pete, phones up said daughter who’s on the edge of becoming a partner at a law firm. Yup – she got so pissed she went off to be successful. In the end, it comes clear that this is Gus’s fault on a number of levels: the growling, the grumping, the sending her away at tough times. Cos that shit makes a kid feel properly rejected. So, what else to do but become corporate and evil? Okay, that side of Mickey is never quite believable. Adams makes her a smart worker, but she can’t hide the heart.

Anyway, the phone-call is to get Mickey to help Gus on his latest wanderings. He’s worked out the sluggish pissing, but the giant blind spots mean he can’t see the batting to make a call on the talent. Although, there’s a dash of magic that turns out to matter as the man-crone can hear realllllly well. Meh – the point is Mickey goes, putting her key case and partnership at risk, and faces into the lifetime challenge of making the old bastard talk.

That said, the sins of the father have made her a bit challenging herself, as Justin Timberlake‘s Johnny (don’t smirk) finds out. He’s the lamb to the silence, falling for Mickey (there’s not-quite-skinny-dipping folks!) whilst on a parallel recruitment mission. They bond in cars, bars and moments of rage. He uses his slightly freakish stare to bring Mickey to the point she can get pissed at everyone and corner Gus…

The film is one for old Americans, fathers of women, and baseball fans. There’s a masculinity to it and more than a whiff of Republicanism. It made me reflect on the humanity of right-wingers, their limits and their values. There’s no grandstanding, you understand, but by the fifth baseball pitch I started to wonder whether this film is the soft side of their America. It has its fans there and in this home…

Trouble with the Curve is very well told, gliding by with clarity and space for all of the characters. Its beats are expected by the time they land, but you’ll be charmed by Adams (the second half is hers), amused by Eastwood, and properly entertained by the gaggle of old Americans being American around them.

Give it a go, if only for the moment Adams’ Mickey tears her Dad a new one.

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