"If this is a robber, take everything you want - except for my flat screen. Take my flat screen, and I'll kill you...."
Warner / 111 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: December 18, 2012
JT and Amy Adams may share screen time with Clint Eastwood in the noble-hearted Trouble With the Curve, but the film icon's most notable co-star in 2012 was an empty chair. Clint, a resolute libertarian, zinged President Obama during a speech at the Republican National Convention this year, and it was a fantastically bold and weird piece of work: his points were valid, his arguments well-spoken, but the whole thing was like an improv class one-off. Leave it to Clint to leave 'em guessing.
In any case, I bring this up because Trouble With the Curve came out right after this appearance, and it seemed to hold over the convention's political sensibility. A ticket purchased for this movie was in a lot of ways tied to not only an appreciation of Clint's power as a movie star, but as a minimal-government advocate. It was a fusion of partisan and cinematic merits that was anomalous in calendar year 2012.
And it's... well, it's a pretty good movie. Clearly spinning doughnuts in Gran Torino territory, this baseball drama from longtime Eastwood producer Robert Lorenz aims to merge the doe-eyed naivete of young Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams with cranky geezer Clint with heartwarming results. Clint plays Gus Lobel, an aging baseball scout who might be losing his mojo, and an opportunity presents itself in which Gus' estranged daughter (Adams) can help him re-polish his reputation.
Trouble With the Curve is sweet, predictable, and uninventive, but that's actually where most of its charm resides. As a breezy, often funny weekend rental, it holds marginal merit - it's nowhere near as irresistible as Gran Torino, but Eastwood has fun with his miserly character, and dramatically, the film moves along with assured sweetness. Of course, though, there's nothing in it quite as memorable as that empty chair bit....