Published Sep 20, 2012Apart from the occasional conversation with a chair, Clint Eastwood still appears to be a capable enough performer to carry a movie. So, after announcing his retirement from acting following 2008's fitting swan song, Gran Torino, it's hardly surprising that the 82-year-old should decide to make one more starring appearance in front of the camera. It's just a shame that it had to be in this film.
Curmudgeonly Atlanta Braves scout Gus (Eastwood) is about to be put out to pasture when he's sent on a critical trip to assess if arrogant hot prospect Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill) is worthy of a first round draft pick. The problem is that the Boston Red Sox own the draft spot ahead of the Braves and have sent out charming former pitcher-turned-scout Johnny (Justin Timberlake) ― someone Gus scouted at one time ― to make that very same determination.
With Gus's eyesight failing, the Braves director of scouting (John Goodman) enlists the help of Gus's daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), to assist him on the trip, which is rather inconvenient for her. She is an emotionally unavailable workaholic attorney with a permanent iron grasp on her Blackberry and a foot in the door for a partnership at her law firm.
Now, with those details provided, it would be fairly simple for anyone to figure out how things might unfold. The father and daughter will work out some long-suppressed emotional trauma while reluctantly spending time together. And maybe the commitment-phobic Mickey (named after Mantle, of course) could fall for that disarmingly affable scout from the Red Sox. It's all more trailer than film.
The script, by Randy Brown, is paint-by-numbers in the most banal fashion, with Mickey and Johnny's courtship including a colourful round of clog dancing and a trip to the local swimming hole, where the two (almost) strip down and ― would you believe it ― actually jump in! A third act plot twist involving a character that has barely been introduced is as telegraphed as it is laughable.
The actors all do fine work, almost in spite of the machinations of the predictable plot. Adams provides depth that few could bring to the caricature of a role and Matthew Lillard has more fun than he really should as Gus's delightfully evil rival.
And to illustrate Eastwood's talents, there is a scene where he sits at the grave of his wife and recites the lyrics to "You Are My Sunshine" that isn't as completely ridiculous as it sounds. (Warner)