If you wanted to know whether Clint Eastwood yells at chairs in his new movie, the answer is a resounding yes. He yells at chairs, bleachers, doors, garages and Amy Adams. He drinks Schlitz beer and unironically jeers at the "Interweb," makes old-man wisecracks at his vegan daughter and his own recalcitrant genitalia.
Because, oh gosh, Clint Eastwood is old. Trouble With the Curve, directed by longtime Eastwood producer Robert Lorenz, reminds us of this in countless demeaning ways that relentlessly kneecap the red-blooded, American-born, deeply self-sufficient man he has always portrayed.
Still, Trouble is one American icon grinding its teeth on another, and for this it is in some small part irresistible. Eastwood plays an aging Major League scout named Gus Lobel who lives, breathes and loves baseball. And he does it for America's team, the Atlanta Braves. Justin Timberlake, as a cocksure young scout with a heart of gold, is likewise winning as the little dog circling the big dog with a stream of endlessly cheery yips.
But the film's a bit confused about itself, and much more confused about what to do with the bounty of sunshine and worried care that is Amy Adams. Adams, as Gus' daughter Mickey, works tirelessly at a law office full of soulless silverbacks who—in hilariously legally actionable terms—question whether a girl is really cut out to be a law partner, and dates a chiseled suit who tells her, with equal soullessness, that they should "take it to the next level" because they "look so good on paper."
But in a strange turn, the film slowly morphs from a tale about a hard-bitten old-timer facing the end of his relevance to the story of a bright, young career woman who finally comes to know herself and find love with a boy-band singer while on the road with her dad.
It is a funny world in which everyone always witlessly says what they mean, every life episode is dubiously calculated for your favorite character's benefit, and every incompetent person is also morally repellent and physically grotesque. But it is the world we live in during this movie. The young men get Amy Adams, the old men get redeemed, and Adams gets everything. Great world, I guess. But as a movie, it's peanuts. PG-13.
Critic's Grade: C
SEE IT: Trouble With the Curve opens Friday at Lloyd Center, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Cornelius, Lake Twin, Pioneer Place, Stadium 11, Bridgeport, City Center, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Movies On TV. Sherwood, Tigard, Wilsonville, St. Johns.