Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cinema Babble: The Anti-Moneyball

The Flick: Trouble With The Curve

The Peeps: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, Matthew Lillard, etc, etc.

The Dealio: Widower Gus is an old-fashioned baseball scout with a great track-record on 'finds' and failing eyesight. His track-record with his daughter- indeed with all those who care about him- is decidedly less successful. Mickey, his daughter, now a power attorney with a large Atlanta firm, is angling for a partnership, trying desperately to avoid committing to a significant other and struggling with her prickly relationship with the dad she adores, but doesn't really 'get'. Rubber-hits-the-road time (literally) poses an interesting dilemma for father and daughter: there is a mega-huge prospect down  North Carolina way, and Gus wants to check him out in person. And  eyesight is only one of the problems Gus has to face: at work, with only three months left on his contract, the man who vowed never to retired is being marginalised by a younger, computer-driven up-and-comer, (Lillard's snotty, sneaky and condescending Phillip), who just wants to seal the deal from the front office and divest the team of the traditional scouts. The adventures start, not only for Gus and Mickey, but also for Johnny 'The Flame' Flanagan, an ex-pitcher scouted by Gus and now looking for a way into the broadcast booth in Boston. Who happens to be scouting the same prospect.

The Grading Session: 4.82 pengies out of 5. I am a total fool for sports movies with a multigenerational thorny problem to figure out and a chance to balance the scales. Therefore, when you add Eastwood- always interesting to watch, Adams, a fine and feisty Mickey, wearing her tender heart on her sleeve and a certain tentative proud/angst-filled attitude towards her gruff, but overwhelmed father, plus the always up-for-it Timberlake to the mix: ta-DAH! It's a decent way to spend a hot afternoon. The middle third dragged a tiny bit, when we we in perilous danger of going real-time with the scouting. Then, at one point, my date leaned in and asked, 'Are we starting another movie here?' But, after about 20-30 minutes of meandering, we course-corrected and headed for the bigs. Your mileage may differ...less usual commute miles.

Lessons Learned: While you can teach an old dog new tricks, it is both hard, and, perhaps, not entirely necessary. I found it interesting that, in one scene, a youngster is talking about Gus, and says, 'Computer?! He couldn't even turn on an electric typewriter!' and then, in the very next scene, we are in Gus' house, and there, sitting on the credenza, is an electric typewriter, which does look well-used. Next this: what qualifies as 'the cheap seats' varies considerably, depending on what it is you are trying to see. Lastly this: how hard is it to clog, if Justin Timberlake can pick it up in under two minutes?

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