The grumpiest old man |

The grumpiest old man

Lisa Miller

Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams reconnect as father and daughter in "Trouble with the Curve."

At 82, Clint Eastwood is taking advantage of his dotage to fill the curmudgeon vacancy left by Walter Matthau. As Gus, an old-school baseball scout, his character has good reason to be aggravated. Gus’s vision is deteriorating, he disdains the computer stats touted as today’s wisdom and the Atlanta Braves aren’t likely to renew the contract, due to expire in three months, that provides his only pleasure and purpose in life. Like him, Gus’s daughter Mickey is swallowed up by her career, coming by only to check on Gus’s health and to offer unwanted advice.

Gus’s relationship with Mickey changes when he goes on what may be his last scouting trip to Ohio where he’s checking out Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill), an arrogant high school slugger and possible first-round pick, already charging $35 per autograph. Following a candid discussion about her dad with Braves’ scouting manager Pete Klein (John Goodman), Mickey (Amy Adams) decides to join Dad. Gus protests until deciding to take advantage of her sharp eyesight.

The film, featuring little baseball play, but loaded with baseball talk and philosophy, is about loving the game and hating those determined to replace guts, instinct and observation with numbers spit out by computers. Surprisingly, some of these points are made best by Mickey, and her love interest (a generic character played by Justin Timberlake).

Other than “go away” and “don’t,” Gus is a man of few words, leaving Mickey feeling she has never earned his love and approval. Late in the film, Gus admits his neglect of Mickey, along with his reason for leaving her with relatives. This admission, as well as several revelations, intended to tie the story up in a feel-good bow, are unconvincing. Rather, the pleasures in “Trouble With the Curve,” abound in its small moments and in Eastwood’s expressive performance.

Anyone over the age of 40 will harken back to an era when much information was gathered from newspapers and face-to-face contact. True, we’ve gained a wealth of instant knowledge from our omnipresent 4G connections, but let’s take a moment to also consider what we’ve lost.

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