Trouble With the Curve: Clint Eastwood Talks to an Empty Chair About Baseball

What a strange thing for an actor to have been rehearsing one’s decline and death for so very long! Eastwood is 82; he was wasting away from TB as early as Honkytonk Man (1982); had officially entered his “I’m getting too old for this shit” magic hour with The Rookie (1990); and memorably fumbled getting back into the saddle in Unforgiven (1992). In Trouble—as in Unforgiven—Eastwood’s Gus communes with his wife’s grave, while instead of waxing his Gran Torino he now bangs up his ’65 Mustang while pulling it out of the garage. The rather cautious, ploddingly professional Trouble is not, however, an Eastwood film, but the directorial debut of Eastwood’s longtime producer and assistant director, Robert Lorenz. He’s working from a script by rookie Randy Brown, who digested the requisite bookshelf’s worth of screenwriting how-tos and has turned in a narrative that never risks making a point in any way that might puzzle the slowest audience member. There are things, all the same, to admire here. It’s the first baseball movie since The Bad News Bears to deal so explicitly with the father/daughter sports bond—Eastwood’s scout is joined on a work trip, against his will, by his daughter, Mickey (as in “Mantle”), played by Amy Adams—and it upends a scene in last year’s Moneyball in which Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane is confronted by a long conference table of dreary-looking, uncomprehending, stick-in-the-mud veteran scouts. Trouble With the Curve is those scouts’ revenge, casting the Sabermetrics nerds as nemeses.