Trouble with the curve

Life’s about curveballs. Case in point: no one expected Clint Eastwood to debate an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. Likewise no one likely thought his first acting role since 2008’s “Grand Torino” (SEE our review) would be in something so draggy and lightweight as “Trouble with the Curve.”

Eastwood’s Gus is all growl, stubbornness and agitation–look out, furniture. A baseball talent scout, he resents the fact that computers are taking over his business. He also happens to be going blind, a worrisome fact to his lawyer-daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), a baseball savant herself who begrudges her father for his having abandoned her during childhood. Despite her workaholic tendencies she agrees to take care of him during a scouting trip to Carolina, where she meets Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), a former player turned scout for a rival team who lobbies for her affections.

“Curve” announces from the start its non-threatening, hallmark-movie nature. It’s not a very deep father-daughter drama. One heavy plot point is quickly forgotten by the next scene while other lesser problems that exist between them seem to just dissolve by the movie’s happy ending. There are some crabby laughs (Gus and buddies play a game where pissing each other off is the objective) but not so much to really call it a comedy. As Mickey manages to cut loose with Flanagan, there is a likable chemistry there, one that you wish you could see more of.

And so it comes down to Eastwood, dutifully playing a man who can’t accept his own frailty, and Adams, tomboyish and carrying the hurt of a neglected childhood–they hit the only real home runs here. Timberlake is fine when not called upon to be an annoying sitcom-like comic relief role. Otherwise this is a movie about people talking and bonding over baseball–too forgettable to recommend.