BY LE LE MAC
When I first heard about this movie, I wasn’t intrigued to watch it because it involves baseball. To me, watching this sport is like watching paint dry. The last baseball movie I watched was A League of Their Own (1992),and I was just a kid in awe of women being the centre of a sports-themed movie and of Madonna acting (I repeat, I was a kid then).
This film is much more than just a baseball movie. It’s a film that explores a damaged but growing father-daughter relationship. The cast was charismatic and convincing in their roles, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing a badass older protective father other than Clint Eastwood. There were some predictable Disney moments but, overall, this film is worth watching because of its honest depiction of this relationship and its actors.
Gus (Eastwood) is a grumpy, old baseball scout who is losing his vision and is about to lose his long-time career to a young and pretentious scout, Phillip (Matthew Lillard). Gus is in denial about his vision loss, as he knows that it will seal the deal on the end of his career. He also rejects the modern way of baseball scouting embraced by the younger scouts, which is analyzing stats produced by online computer programs, rather than the more intuitive and hands-on approach employed by Gus. When it looks like he has no choice but to retire, life throws a curve ball. When his good friend and colleague, Pete (John Goodman), convinces Gus’s daughter Mickey to help him scout the next big baseball player down in North Carolina, he’s given an opportunity to rebuild his relationship with his daughter and save his career.
Mickey (Amy Adams) is a 33-year-old lawyer who is up for a promotion to be partner in her firm. She is a workaholic and her personal life inevitably suffers because of it. We later find out that she hates practicing law and in fact loves baseball as much as her dad. It makes sense that she finds her new love interest in the attractive, witty baseball scout, Flannigan (Justin Timberlake).
Flannigan and Gus also have a mutual liking for each other–and it’s rare for Gus to like anyone. They are both similar to each other as they both have an obvious passion for baseball, and they prefer the old-fashioned way of scouting out on the field.
Mickey’s relationship with her father is a constant game of cat and mouse. Mickey is chasing her father, continuously confronting him about abandoning her when she was young, shortly after her mother died. At the other end, Gus runs away and hides a shameful secret. Throughout most of the film, we witness their constant struggle, as the audience tries to understand why their relationship has so much friction and if resolution is possible. In the end, we empathize with both characters. Adams conveys feelings of abandonment, resentment and longing that the audience inevitably sides with. Even in Gus’ mysterious silence, the audience can sense his love for his daughter. We find out that his intentions were well-meaning and that he did what he did to protect his daughter the best that he could.
This film shed a light on understanding the parent’s perspective and their struggles with parenting as they age. Yes, parents can very well have trouble fulfilling their roles, even if they are not the primary caregiver anymore. So the next time your parent says “I did it for your own good,” it’s probably true, and it might be worthwhile to ask “How is that so?” Demand an answer if all you get is an Eastwood grunt.
Le Le Mac’s passion in film started when she would watch several Chinese films a week so that she could learn how to be more fluent in her mother tongue. Her passion then led her to study film and the Asian diaspora in Canada in graduate school. She is currently writing film reviews as a hobby. She is a big fan of Radiohead and tea. She has 40 different types of tea in her collection, and will often host tea parties. She currently lives in Toronto with her husband.
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