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TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman
Director: Robert Lorenz
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 111 Minutes
Release Date: December 18, 2012

ďI know I'm as blind as a slab of concrete, but I'm not helpless. I'll put a bullet in my head when that happens.Ē

ďThatís comforting.Ē

Film **1/2

When Gran Torino was released a few years ago, it appeared that Clint Eastwood had given us his swan song in regards to acting. And it definitely served as a fitting farewell to a monumental acting legacy. He hasnít yet retired from directing, and thatís certainly a good thing.

But even at age 82, I guess old Clint wanted to take one more swing in front of the camera, and given the nature of the film Iím reviewing you will have to excuse the really bad pun. Trouble With the Curve not only marks a rare acting gig from Eastwood, but itís also the first film since 1993ís In the Line of Fire that heís starred in but not directed. This time heís handed the directing reigns to longtime producing partner Robert Lorenz.

So the big question is, was the film worthy of a mighty return to the bat for Clint (once again, I apologize). Well, as much I love to see crotchety old Clint doing his gruntingly best, and he does display much of his classic grumpiness here, I would have preferred seeing him in a film not so plain and predictable. The end result is pretty much Gran Torino if the subject of baseball substituted the issue of violence.

Eastwood plays Gus Lobel, a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves who even at his old age is still out in the field (I promise to stop that right now!). Gusí time as a scout, however, is near the end. Not merely because of his age (though the film does a good job of reminding us that he is indeed old) but because the concept of saber metrics (Moneyball) is becoming the new brand of scouting for players.

Nevertheless, Gusí longtime friend, Pete Klein (John Goodman), arranges for Gus to travel upwards to North Carolina for one last scouting assignment and recruit a top high school prospect. But Gus also gets unexpected company on the road in the form of his daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), whoís reluctant to tag along but wants to help because the old manís eyesight is a growing concern. Also in the mix is sports reporter, and former player, Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), who takes more than a liking to Mickey.

The film is, if anything, a crowd pleaser and those seeking nothing more than a simple drama/sports movie will find it truly endearing. And frankly, I should fully endorse a film that is set in and around my own neck of the woods. I should also fully endorse a film that was able to obtain the likeness of my favorite pro baseball team.

But frankly when I associate the name Clint Eastwood with a film, be it acting or directing, Iíve come to expect material with much potency and edge than what I got here. After seeing all the films heís delivered in the past ten years, as well as other striking works of art like Unforgiven and A Perfect World, this feels way too pedestrian by comparison. And the same character Eastwood plays here is basically a variation on the characters he played in Gran Torino and Million Dollar Baby, two much stronger films.

Video ****

Nothing but high marks, though, about the transfer as Warner knocks this Blu-ray presentation out of the park (I did it again, didnít I?). The film definitely carries that Eastwood look to it, courtesy of his longtime cinematographer Tom Stern. Colors are terrifically striking and skin tones are thoroughly natural. Black tones are well treated too in a several sequences.

Audio ***

Though this is strictly a dialogue-oriented feature, the DTS HD mix does accomplish the basics in true high form. Dialogue delivery is spectacular from beginning to end, and all of the baseball action is captured tremendously well. Music playback is handled terrifically, in addition. Nice balance throughout, as well.

Features *

This Combo Pack release from Warner Bros includes two featurettes, ďTrouble With the Curve: Rising Through the RanksĒ and ďTrouble With the Curve: For Love of the GameĒ, which add up to about ten minutes total.

A DVD bonus copy is also included, as is a code to access an Ultraviolet Digital Copy version.

Summary:

Itís always great to see Clint Eastwood back in front of the camera, but Trouble With the Curve is simply lacking the power of the recent series of films heís been associated with. Itís easily the most lightweight movie heís done in a very long time, though I will credit the film for itís instances of charm.

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