Clint Eastwood has aged gracefully onscreen over the years, even while playing the most curmudgeonly of old man characters imaginable – and this fall’s Trouble with the Curve is no exception. It marks the octogenarian/Hollywood legend’s first onscreen appearance since Gran Torino in 2008, as well as the feature debut of Robert Lorenz (Eastwood’s trusted producer and assistant director for the past 17 years).
Trouble with the Curve features Eastwood as Gus, a famous Atlanta Braves scout facing imminent retirement due to his failing eyesight and old-fashioned methods. Gus heads out on a road trip to check out a hot prospect (Joe Massingill) with his longtime estranged adult daughter (Amy Adams) begrudgingly coming along out of a “dysfunctional sense of responsibility” (as she puts it in the trailer).
The Trouble with the Curve trailer pitch (pun intended) is more a tale about a father and daughter attempting to mend broken bonds, as opposed to a road trip dramedy about two people attempting to overcome the generation gap. There’s still a healthy amount of Eastwood cracking old man jokes with his iconic gravelly tone, such as threatening to have a heart attack (while confronting a bar hooligan). It’s during moments like that that Trouble with the Curve comes off as Moneyball by way of Space Cowboys, more than anything else.
A good chunk of the theatrical preview also focuses on Adams’s character and her budding relationship with a younger scout (Justin Timberlake) who admires Gus. That suggests Trouble with the Curve is as much her story as it is Eastwood’s. There have been a couple of recent sports dramas that also juggled dual character-driven narrative threads with satisfying results (The Fighter, Warrior), so that’s encouraging.
Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood in 'Trouble with the Curve'
Lorenz appears to be as interested in quality storytelling as his mentor; the same goes for Trouble with the Curve screenwriter Randy Brown (a newcomer). The film certainly seems much more lively and upbeat than Eastwood’s recent directing efforts, which have remained dour and melancholic over the past decade (Mystic River, Hereafter, J. Edgar). That’s not, per se, a bad thing; maybe a little extra sunshine would do the old man good – even if he does grumble the whole time.
Adams is poised to end 2012 on a strong note, thanks to her roles in Trouble with the Curve and P.T. Anderson’s The Master (which is already generating Oscar buzz for the actress). It’ll be interesting to see if Eastwood gets recognized by the Academy for his work here – though, it might feel a bit like a consolation prize after years of rich performances from the man.
Trouble with the Curve opens in U.S. theaters on September 21st, 2012.