In baseball, even the best players only get a hit three out of every 10 at bats. By that standard, Clint Eastwood is doing OK. But by Hollywood standards, it may not be enough.
"Trouble With the Curve," which opens nationwide Friday and was filmed partially in Macon, is having trouble with film critics.
The movie stars Eastwood as Gus, a widowed and aging (but legendary) baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves.
Amy Adams plays his daughter Mickey, and Justin Timberlake is her love interest. John Goodman portrays Gus' friend Pete, and Matthew Lillard, a guy best known as Shaggy in the live-action "Scooby-Doo" movies, is an executive who wants Gus gone.
Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum gave it a C- and calls the movie "wholly derivative sports-redemption drama," adding a few derivative sports puns to deliver her opinion, like "swinging at pitches visible a mile away" and "minor-league work in the field of Eastwood's good Old Age Movies like Gran Torino."
Peter Hartlaub, of the San Francisco Chronicle, says "'Trouble' issecond-rate Eastwood, existing in a parallel universe where the celebrity has been reduced to a Hallmark movie-of-the-week actor, not one of the most respected directors in Hollywood. Unlike some of his better recent acting outputs, this is a blunt, subtlety-free performance."
(In a great line, Hartlaub called Timberlake "cinematic truffle oil. He makes everything a little bit better.")
Roger Ebert is just positive enough about the movie not to be considered lukewarm. He admits it isn't a "a great sports film, like Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby." But it's a superior entertainment, moving down somewhat predictable paths with an authenticity and humanity that appeals."
Maybe that's what audiences are looking for.
Time Magazine seems to think so. There, critic Richard Corliss notes, "...predictability is not disqualifying to a film that wears its artlessness on its uniform sleeve." He says that what counts is that "Trouble" hits its mark when it is predictable, calling it "...modest and moving..." and "...an engaging winner..."
That's not exactly high praise.
For praise, turn to the Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy who surely likes him some surly Clint Eastwood: "Playing a sort of PG-13-rated version of his ornery coot in Gran Torino, Eastwood is vastly entertaining as an old-fashioned scout who disdains computers and fancy statistical charts in favor of his own time-tested instincts."
Multiple reviews referenced both Eastwood's empty chair routine at the Republican National Convention and pointed out how many times in "Trouble" he speaks to inanimate objects. But we won't ruin that surprise for you.
"Trouble With the Curve" opens at 1:20 p.m. in Macon's AmStar 16; at the Galleria 15 in Warner Robins at 1:15 p.m.; 7:15 p.m. in Milledgeville's Carmike 6; and 7:10 p.m. at Dublin's Carmike 8.
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