Aging baseball scout, Gus, is becoming a fossil in the age of technology and computing. After a visit to his doctor reveals that Gus is dealing with macular degeneration, his friend and colleague, Pete, tries to convince Gus’s daughter to go down to North Carolina with him to help with the scouting trip. While they contend with each between their generational differences and desire for attention, the trip begins to give them a chance to reconnect. Johnny, a hopeful announcer for the Red Sox, is in Carolina scouting as well, but makes an instant connection with Mickey and challenges her goals for her legal career. With both Gus and Mickey feeling the pressure from their respective jobs, they contend with their past returning to threaten their focus. A young man’s career hangs in the balance with the top two picks in the upcoming draft scouting using their differing techniques.
Starring: Clint Eastwood (Gus), Amy Adams (Mickey), John Goodman (Pete Klein), Justin Timberlake (Johnny), Matthew Lillard (Phillip Sanderson), Chelcie Ross (Smitty), Ed Lauter (Max), Clifton Guterman (Neil), Matt Bush (Danny), Ricky Muse (Jimmy), Tom Dreesen (Rock), Jay Galloway (Rigo Sanchez), James Patrick Freetly (Todd), Joe Massingill (Bo Gentry), Seth Meriwether (Wilson)
At this point of his career, Clint Eastwood no longer has any sort of range other than to play the sad, stubborn old guy, though he would be considered the master at it. Meanwhile, Amy Adams is a little bit of a breath of fresh air and Justin Timberlake adds a little more energy to a film with a slower pace and dialogue. Looking at the cast as a whole, there was an overtone of the slower pace in all of their performances, if only to match the aging Eastwood.
Though this movie was not directed by Eastwood, Robert Lorenz manages to keep the same feel of Eastwood’s previous films. Gus is a stubborn old mule who refuses to abandon what he knows. Scouting without the use of the technology used by others like Phillip, his failing eyesight was going to make doing his job impossible and force him into retirement. While Pete gets Mickey to travel to Carolina, she brought her job with her and tried to balance completing her report by the deadline and helping her father be the eyes he needed in order to do his job. While everything with Bo seemed to be on track, Gus heard something in Bo’s swing that led him to realize that Bo was not worth a top pick, but his analysis went against the statistics put together by Phillip. When put up against the statistics, the right pieces needed to fall into place to convince the Braves organization that the aging scout was not actually washed up.
The film may have a slow pace but it is not without a lot of complexity. While not handled in the smoothest way, the curveballs for the film included the return of past issues and the arrival of a wild card in Johnny. Focusing on Mickey’s story, her life was one of distance because of her tattered relationship with her father. When Johnny walked onto the scene, he almost instantaneously became a staple in Mickey’s and Gus’s lives. He challenged her balance of her work and perceptions on finding a partner. Meanwhile, she played a tug-o-war with her father with trying to get him to open up about why he pushed her away so much. Out of the blue toward the end of the film, he finally discloses that he saved her from a child molester, which was why he felt so inadequate to take care of her as a child. Periodically, there are references to needing therapy, but this announcement was meant to try to pull everything together in one quick scene.
This film had some great potential with a solid cast and a good concept but seemed to drag through the story with an aging star and tired theme. There are many redeeming elements but not enough to make it more than an average film.
Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5