Trouble With The Curve’s old-fashioned qualities and romanticism veer into hokiness, but , but the film gets a major charge from Amy Adams, who plays Gus’ daughter Mickey. In a spirited, nuanced performance, Adams subtly undermines the film’s tacit approval of its protagonist’s ways. A dedicated lawyer on track for partnership at her Atlanta firm, Mickey’s learned to hide in her work and to keep people at an emotional distance from her dad, who shipped her away to live with family when she was six and her mother passed away.
Adams doesn’t play Mickey as brittle or snippy, which has become lazy actor shorthand for the workaholic females in movies. She’s guarded but warm, and keeps reaching out to her father via calls and dinners, despite his apparent indifference and unintentionally harsh words. We know that Gus loves his daughter, he just has trouble expressing it. When Mickey isn’t around, he has no trouble praising her in the presence of others. But over the course of the film, Mickey’s refusal to give up on her relationship with her father, despite being repeatedly rebuffed by him, starts looking more like strength than her remaining parent’s growling dedication to doing things the right way.
The same qualities show up in Mickey’s tentative romance with new scout Johnny (Justin Timberlake, always welcome), a former pitcher scouted by Gus years ago who blew out his arm and now aims for an announcer job. He charms his way past her defenses, and she in turn acknowledges her tendency to keep people at a distance. Mickey demonstrates that being able to bend, to acknowledge your faults and work on them requires more courage than always standing your ground. Adams quietly steals the movie out from under her co-star, and she does it while steering clear of the stereotypical ruts that could have mired her performance in mediocrity. Adams and her unexpected approach to her scenes with Eastwood bring Trouble With The Curve to life and give it more animation than its formula would suggest.
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