Directed by Robert Lorenz.
2012. Rated PG-13, 111 minutes.
Gus Lobel (Eastwood) has been a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves for forever and a day. He loves the game so much he even named his daughter Mickey (Adams) after Mickey Mantle, his all-time favorite player. As it eventually happens to most of us, Gus’ eyes are going on him. That’s an even bigger deal than normal given his job. It doesn't help that Philip (Lillard), the young hotshot in the front-office wants to phase him out and rely much more heavily on his new fangled computers.
Luckily for Gus, he’s still got one friend who thinks like him and is willing to go to bat for him. That’s Pete (Goodman), who also works in the front-office. He figures out what’s wrong with his buddy and, in hopes of saving Gus’ job, convinces Mickey to tag along with her dad on a scouting trip to watch highly-touted prospect Bo Gentry (Massingill). Bo literally gets a hit on the first pitch of every at-bat until the plot requires otherwise. Since he’s so good, he is also an insufferable jackass. Scouting Bo aside, the real question is whether Gus and Mickey can survive each other. They don’t have much of a relationship mostly because Gus is a crotchety old dude who isn't happy unless he’s ripping someone a new one. Think Clint’s character from Gran Torino sans racism and cool car.
Watching Eastwood and Adams play off one another is somewhat intriguing. They combine to create a genuine portrayal of two people who care for each other but can’t communicate without it getting testy. A little less effective is the telegraphed-from-a-mile-away romance between Adams’ character and Johnny “Flame” Flanagan played by Justin Timberlake. He’s a former pitcher once scouted by Gus who is now a rival scout for the Boston Red Sox. Some of their scenes together are fun, especially if you enjoy baseball trivia. Unfortunately, her overly pushy boyfriend treating their relationship like a business transaction plus the fact that Flanagan is the only other scout that doesn't qualify for AARP makes it feel too preordained for us to get worked up about.
Things go along well enough for a good deal of the run time, but dammit, we've got problems to solve. Best handled of these is Gus and Mickey’s relationship. It feels like a logical resolution. On the other end of the spectrum is Gus’ work issue and Mickey’s love affair. That love thing is handled exactly like you suspect it will be but were praying the filmmakers aren't that lazy. Sorry, they are.
That work issue is even more ridiculous. Being a baseball fan with friends who shun the hordes of new statistics out there, I am acutely aware that this movie plays as the exact counter-argument to the Brad Pitt flick Moneyball. Even so, what this movie comes up with is just way too contrived for its own good. Basically, it’s “look what fell out of the sky!” What we’re left with is a film that plucks along in an occasionally interesting manner, thanks to the performances of its leads, but never quite gets us emotionally involved enough to buy the ending.
MY SCORE: 5.5/10