Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake PG-13 | 2½ stars
Baseball scouts love five-tool players-athletes who can hit for average and power, run, field and throw. Amy Adams is a five-tool player. She's terrific in comedies and dramas (including The Master, out now), she's smart, she can sing and luckily for Trouble with the Curve, she's so likable she can make an otherwise middling movie feel like a sweet afternoon at the ballpark.
Adams stars as Mickey, an attorney fighting for a partnership in her firm when she's not sparring with her dad, Gus (Eastwood). A scout for the Atlanta Braves who's losing his eyesight, Gus is such a plainspoken cuss it's hard to tell where he ends and Eastwood begins. At the urging of Gus's boss Pete (John Goodman, delightful as ever), Mickey tags along with the old man on a North Carolina scouting trip. You can fill in the ol' stubborn father/feisty daughter cliches for how that works out. While you're at it, drag out the rom-com playbook for when Mickey meets player-turned-scout Johnny (Timberlake, who's...an awesome singer). But you'd have to be a meanie to let Curve's deficits overwhelm its many charms. The story is touching, funny when it needs to be, and might even leave you a little sad to see the baseball season end.
End of Watch
Jake Gyllenhaal", Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick | R | 3 stars
Theoretically this shouldn't work. End of Watch, about LAPD partners Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Pena), tries to be a gripping drama, a buddy-cop movie and a faux documentary-and mostly succeeds at all three. The documentary aspect is the most dubious, as Brian breaks out his video camera on patrol with Mike, where they rile a drug cartel, and on dates with his girlfriend Janet (Kendrick). What sells the idea is that the actors have such hilarious bro chemistry, their scenes feel like we're eavesdropping on a good time. The fun ends in Watch's violent final act, which often feels like an episode of TNT's Southland. (The show is excellent, so yes, that's a compliment.)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller PG-13 | 3 stars
High school is nasty, brutish and not nearly short enough, but it's worse for Charlie (Lerman) because he's that kid-that kid who was in a mental hospital, that kid whose best friend killed himself. Fortunately, Charlie finds saviors in quirky seniors Sam (Watson) and Patrick (Miller), who let him into their cool little coven. Though Lerman's Charlie is more vivid than he was in writer-director Stephen Chbosky's teen-fave '99 novel, Watson seems too perfect for outcast Sam. But the richly talented Miller steals his scenes as flamboyant Patrick, saving the film from bouts of inertia. Perks should thrill fans of the book, though others may not see what the fuss is about.