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Review: The Anti-Moneyball (Trouble with the Curve)

As Trouble with the Curve begins, an array of images are glossed over as Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) walks down the hallway of his home. Don Sutton, Dale Murphy and Hank Aaron are all on display. The glory days are over this moment suggests, though those figures photographed would never admit it.

Gus, a longtime Braves scout, operates with a similar sense of denial. His contract is three months away from expiring and Phil Sanderson (Matthew Lillard having a career renaissance as a dick) and his computer-based scouting are leaning toward sending the old horse out to stud. Pete (John Goodman), the Director of Scouting, isn't convinced that Gus is done and wants to send him down to South Carolina to assess a potential franchise-player. The only problem? Gus's vision is going, but he is too stubborn to say so.

Mickey (Amy Adams) is just as stubborn as her father. She hasn't had a Saturday off and years, yet she still hopes to be made a partner at the firm. At Pete's behest, she decides to take some time off of work and go with her father to South Carolina. The two have been semi-estranged since the death of Mickey's mother and Gus leaving her while he went on the road. Life as a scout wouldn't be right for a girl, Gus argues, but Mickey could not be more adamant that he is wrong. As the two strive to get along while they both struggle with their own careers, both find out a second pair of eyes can offer a great deal of insight.

Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood butt heads magnificently. When Adams and Eastwood are taking in a game, or fighting in a pool hall, the film is at its best. Trouble with the Curve has some faults with its writing, but the chemistry between the three leads appears in spades. Eastwood cashing in on his trademark grizzly bear visage clashes wonderfully with Adams's feistiness.

However, the film flounders when it focuses on the high school prospect that Gus and Johnny (Justin Timberlake), a rival scout, are both eyeing for the draft. The dialogue has a distinct tin-sound to it and ultimately it means nothing toward the development of Gus and Mickey's fractured relationship. Unfortunately, Trouble loses sight of the game often. Focusing on the arrogant Bo Gentry and the nefarious dealings of Matthew Lillard's scummy Sanderson just rings false in a film that at the end feels just a little too good.

**1/2 out of ****

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