Never say never. After 2008's Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood fans feared that they wouldn't see him acting in a new movie ever again. It was always going to take something special for him to change his mind about his in-front-of-the-camera retirement, but friendship is the most precious reason of all: for his longtime producer and assistant director Robert Lorenz' film Eastwood has had a change of heart.

He plays Gus Lobel, a legendary and ornery (naturally) scout for the Atlanta Braves baseball team. Even though he's still fighting the good fight against stats programmes and the young know-it-all scouts who care nothing about the players, Gus is nearing the end of his innings professionally and physically. The terror for him is he has he has no life outside of the job: a widower of 28 years, his relationship with lawyer daughter Mickey (Adams) is strained, with every encounter between them a masterclass in what isn't said, or said very badly.

Knowing that something is wrong with Gus and with the young pretenders sniffing blood, Gus' friend, boss and boardroom champion Pete Klein (Goodman) suggests to Mickey that she accompany her father on a crucial recon to North Carolina. With just days to go until the draft, the Braves' number one target, an ego monster called Bo Gentry, is hitting home run after home run and Gus' future hinges on signing him. But can he and Mickey find a way to put the past behind them?

Few things in this life are as reassuring as the Clint growl and fans will get plenty of it and those how-come-I-can-never think-of-something like that? one-liners here. Trouble with the Curve is no classic, but it manages to be both funny and poignant and in its depiction of family dysfunction is a powerful reminder to us all that our time is short. Once again, Eastwood bulldozes his icon status through his portrayal of physical decline and while there's unashamed heartstring pulling and sentimentality, the chemistry between him and co-star Adams is great and leaves you hoping that they can team up again. The same can be said for Timberlake, who does nice supporting work as dad's competition and daughter's potential love interest.

Both a very predictable movie and that rarest of things: a trip to the cinema that sports nuts and family drama obsessives can actually agree on. Cue that baseball organ music.

Harry Guerin