TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE
By Gary Murray
Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman
Written by Randy Brown
Directed by Robert Lorenz
Running time 111 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Matinee
Clint Eastwood is an icon and basically the last man standing from the more golden age of Hollywood. Some of his successes as an actor have been Dirty Harry franchise, the Sergio Leone Dollars Western trilogy and the Which Way comedies.
Over the last few years, he has become a director with Unforgiven, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. Though he generally works only on his own projects, sometimes a very lucky director will get this maverick just to act. The latest director to coax him to appear in front of a lens is Robert Lorenz and the baseball film is Trouble with the Curve.
Baseball movies have been around almost since there has been baseball. Usually they are either bio-picts like Pride of the Yankees or The Babe Ruth Story or metaphor on life such as Field of Dreams or The Natural. It is usually about the game itself, very seldom is the audience treated to the more behind-the-scenes aspects of the major leagues. Last year, Money-ball shows the inner-workings of following the team. Trouble with the Curve tracks that path.
In Trouble with the Curve, Clint Eastwood plays Gus a scout for the Atlanta Braves. He is the oldest of the old school, a guy who has seen it all and has forgotten more about baseball than most people know. As the film opens, we soon discover that he’s losing his sight. The young bucks in Atlanta judge everything by spread sheets while Gus does it by good old-fashioned know-how.
John Goodman plays his scouting boss and still believes in the old-timer. Worried about his friend and co-worker, he contacts Gus’ daughter Mickey (Amy Adams). Even though she is a hard as nails junior associate at a law firm on the way to partner, she takes off a few days to see what is going on with her father.
As the film uncoils, we find that Dad and Daughter have a strained relationship. Mickey feels that her father abandoned her and Gus has a hard time expressing his feelings. Added to this mix is another man. Justin Timberlake is Johnny, a former pitcher with a blown arm who is trying to stay in baseball by scouting. His dream job of being a color man in the booth is almost secured if he does a good job of scouting for The Reds. Johnny has a soft spot for Gus, the scout who signed him. He also notices that Gus’ daughter is a looker with an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball.
With all the characters in place, the story of Trouble with the Curve is of a group of different scouts watching a series of high school baseball games to judge the major league talent of one player. Some think that the kid could be one of the best to ever play the game and a first round draft choice. It is also about Gus and Mickey finally connecting as two people. And, of course, there is the romance between Mickey and Johnny.
The film is very old-fashioned filmmaking but it has the big reveal at the end that feels a tad bit disingenuous. The movie is more about the three people and not about tying up everything in a pretty little bow, which it does succinctly. Even though the film is set in the world of baseball, it is more a film about family and how they are melded together.
Clint Eastwood is the biggest reason to see Trouble with the Curve. His rough and tumble style works perfectly in the guise of Gus. We trust the reading is true, a hallmark of a good actor. While he does chew a scene here and there, for the most part he keeps on an even and slightly over-the-top keel.
Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake have a nice chemistry together and the scenes of them becoming a couple are believable. They are two charming individuals who make a charming duo. In the world of this movie, they are two slightly lost people who find each other in the way it only happens in Hollywood.
While Trouble with the Curve is a nice little movie, it isn’t a great cinematic experience. Yes, it is a bit cheesy and doesn’t break any barriers but not every movie has to the end-all be-all sports flick. It is a simple popcorn chewing flick that should generate a solid little bit of cash.