(US - 2012)
Directed by Robert Lorenz. Written by Randy Brown. Cast: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Robert Patrick, Matthew Lillard, Ed Lauter, Chelcie Ross, Ray Anthony Thomas, Bob Gunton, George Wyner, Jack Gilpin, Peter Hermann, Scott Eastwood. (PG-13, 110 mins)
Four years since he last appeared onscreen in 2008's GRAN TORINO, Clint Eastwood returns in the first film he's starred in without directing since 1993's IN THE LINE OF FIRE. Longtime Eastwood assistant director/producing partner Robert Lorenz makes his directing debut with TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, and also demonstrates the same laid-back, leisurely-paced feel of many of Eastwood's late-career behind-the-camera efforts. Unlike a lot of non-Clint-directed films that he probably backseat-directed but didn't care enough to take the credit (meaning, THE DEAD POOL or PINK CADILLAC or anything supposedly directed by his decades-long pal Buddy Van Horn), Lorenz probably was in charge on TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, if for no other reason than its utterly generic, Hallmark Channel TV-movie feel, right down to the bland, manipulative score by the usually reliable Marco Beltrami. Eastwood's been composing his own jazzy scores for years. There's no way Beltrami's by-the-numbers score would be on this if it was Eastwood's movie.
The fill-in-the-blanks script by first-time screenwriter Randy Brown leaves no cliche unutilized and no heartstring untugged. It would be pretty hard to take if not for a cast of pros, all of whom almost certainly signed on without even reading Brown's script just to get a chance to work with Clint. And at this point in his life and career, all the man really needs to do is show up and be Clint and we're hooked. Even at 82, he's still got the same screen presence he had nearly 50 years ago in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, and as he's gotten older, no one has cornered the market on gruff, crotchety old bastards like Eastwood. He doesn't try very hard here, because he doesn't have to, and he turns in a very natural performance that demonstrates a cozy familiarity that his fans, especially the now-elderly ones who've been with him since his TV days on RAWHIDE, clearly welcome.