Thursday, October 06, 2016

Old Man Struggles With Emotions

My dad really wanted me to watch Trouble with the Curve. I guess he figured I'd like it because of Clint Eastwood, which is admittedly not a big stretch on his part. But a movie where the grumpy old scout teaches those punk kids about how their durn computers can't help you measure a ballplayer? I've read enough shitty columns by hack sportswriters with that exact same message to last a lifetime.

But I guess the movie is at least as much about his daughter Mickey, played by Amy Adams, trying to reconnect with her dad, while looking after him on a scouting trip. I think Eastwood must have some regrets about not being there for his kid in real life, because this isn't the first movie where this has been an issue. It was a fairly big part of Absolute Power, and his daughter (played by Laura Linney) was a lawyer in that movie, too, just like Adams. Although in that case his character seemed more interested in maintaining contact than Linney's, and here it's the reverse. Mickey still gets frustrated with her dad, his complete inability to talk with her about anything other than baseball, and would probably be a lot better off if she could stop giving a damn about him entirely, but that's not in the cards.

I'm not sure what to make of the fact Adams seems to only find happiness when she abandons most everything she had built up, and seemingly starts a new career as a scout/agent, and finds a new boyfriend in the person of a former ballplayer (played by Justin Timberlake) her father had scouted and signed. Baseball was something she grew up loving, but distanced herself from it when it appeared her father cared more about it than her. So she became a lawyer, worked all the time, became a vegetarian (?), but none of it really makes her happy. Her bosses at her law firm were apparently looking for any excuse to pass her over for being a partner in favor of some kissass. So she's going to enter the not at all male-dominated field of professional baseball, where I'm sure her skills will not be disrespected or doubted because she's a woman.

There's also the fact Mickey finds out from her dad she was nearly molested by some creepy groundskeeper or something when she was 6, which seems like it should be a bigger deal for her. She had already admitted she's been in therapy for over a decade, just trying to get over feeling like it was her fault her dad was never around. This seems like something that would be kind of significant, but it's mostly about how that was one of the things that convinced Gus he wasn't a good dad (he had been distracted talking to a player, letting her wander off, and was dealing with the recent death of his wife).

Actually, the idea of Gus trying to cope with that loss, and not being able to do it and raise a small girl, that could be something, but that molestation thing was unnecessary. I had thought, given Gus' recurring nightmares about the horse running the bases, that the problem was Mickey had nearly been run over because he wasn't paying attention, which seems like it might have been enough. Kid almost dies on top of wife dying, yeah that could cause a person to break. As it stands, it's one more awful thing for Mickey, but framed entirely through how it affected Gus.

All that said, Eastwood and Adams had a good back-and-forth. Not a huge surprise; Adams is a top-notch actress, and Eastwood is good within a certain range. And at this stage, it's not too hard for him to play an older man, feeling his body and mind betraying him, seeing the mistakes he's made. I'm not as sure about Adams and Timberlake's chemistry, but it grows over the course of the film. Since their characters are supposed to get slowly more comfortable with each other, that's a good approach.

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