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'Trouble With the Curve'

Oct. 2, 2012

Clint Eastwood has made a whole career out of playing tough, grumpy and uncommunicative characters.

Sometimes it works, like in the classic Western "The Unforgiven." Sometimes it doesn't, like in the awful "Gran Torino."

In "Trouble with the Curve," Eastwood is tailor-made for his sullen, aging character, a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves named Gus Lobel.

Gus has been one of the best at judging MLB talent, but he's finding it hard to keep up with changing times and his ever-diminishing health. While his peers are getting all their stats online, Gus still keeps up with the minor leagues players by poring through dozens of newspapers, which he reads with the aid of a magnifying glass due to macular degeneration.

Gus' superiors are wondering whether it's time to retire his number, but Gus has no such thoughts. He has honed his skills to the point where he can hear a glitch in a hitter's swing.

But the movie isn't only about baseball; it's also about relationships.

Gus' only child, Mickey (Amy Adams), a successful lawyer on the cusp of becoming a partner in an Atlanta law firm, has tried to keep the lines of communication open but is always spurned by her dad, who had to raise her alone after his wife died when Mickey was only 6. But when a close friend of her dad's implores Mickey (named after Mickey Mantle) to check on her dad, she returns, but his stubbornness and independence again prove roadblocks in their relationship.

Mickey joins her dad on his scouting tour and meets up with Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), a young scout for the Boston Red Sox. Flanagan is interested in the same player Gus is checking out, an arrogant slugger named Bo Gentry, who boasts about his talents and his future in the Big Leagues to his doting teammates.

The story has few surprises and telegraphs outcomes - the know-it-all player getting his comeuppance, the guy she can't stand that she eventually falls for, the well-paying job given up to pursue a passion.

What is surprising is how genuine most of the movie feels and how much humor comes from that genuineness. A lot of that has to do with Eastwood and how well he plays his taciturn character, who just can't say the right things to his daughter. Adams pairs nicely with Eastwood. As Mickey, she shows little patience with her father and leaves meals unfinished and conversations truncated as she storms out when he refuses to talk about resentments she harbors from her past.

Timberlake plays another interesting fellow just like his smarmy character in "The Social Network." He somehow manages to muster up enough charm in this movie to keep the audience rooting for him.

The movie also features a great bullpen, including John Goodman as Gus' buddy and boss Pete Klein.

While many baseball movies just don't feel real, this one does.

That's because Eastwood and Adams hit one out of the ballpark.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Spring Seedling Sale & Greenhouse Open House: 10 a.m. May 23, NuGenesis Farm, N68 W33208 County Road K, Oconomowoc. A variety of organic veggie and herb seedlings to plant in your home or community garden this spring will be for sale. All plant sale profits will benefit the Giving Garden initiative.

Memorial Honor Celebration: 8 a.m. May 23, Wisconsin Harley-Davidson, 1280 Blue Ribbon Drive, Oconomowoc. Daylong event begins with reveille and breakfast at 8 a.m. followed by color guard and the national anthem. The event also includes military and veterans organizations, interactive displays and vehicles, food and beverages and entertainment. Evening showing of “Honor Flight: One Last Mission.” on a big, outdoor screen.

"Small Space Container Gardens" Seminar: 11 a.m. May 23, Ebert’s Greenhouse Village, W1795 Fox Road, Ixonia. Free educational seminar by gardening expert Melinda Myers. Melinda, who will also be available to answer gardening questions. Enter to win a $500 Ebert’s shopping spree with Melinda.

Tyke Hike: 10 a.m. May 23, Lapham Peak State Park, W329 N846, Delafield. Children and their families will hike with a guide and a representative of the Delafield Library will share books, songs and a craft to enhance the experience. Meet at the Lapham Peak Tower. State park sticker is required.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

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