Review: Trouble with the Curve
by Justin Jasso
The game of baseball is known as America’s favorite pastime and Clint Eastwood may be one of America’s national treasures. He has been acting, at least on screen, since 1955, and for those who aren’t math majors out there, that would equate to fifty-seven years on camera. Eastwood is also currently eighty-two years young, so it’s only a matter of time before he puts down his last script and decides to retire. But that inevitable retirement will have to wait as Eastwood is once again the lead in the new film by director Robert Lorenz, Trouble with the Curve.
Eastwood plays Gus Lobel, a longtime scout for the Atlanta Braves. In the “Moneyball era,” where young players are evaluated by computers, Gus’ judgment is being questioned, especially by ambitious assistant general manager Phil Sanderson (Matthew Lillard). But scouting director Pete Klein (John Goodman) believes Gus’ instincts are still sharp, even if his eyesight isn’t. When Gus is sent to North Carolina to scout a high school slugger named Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill), Pete recruits a backup: Gus’ daughter, Mickey, who learned the intricacies of baseball during childhood road trips with her father but is now a high-powered lawyer. Mickey has to win a big case to become a partner in her firm, and her all-business boyfriend is pressing her for a commitment, yet she implausibly drops everything to sit with her old man and his competitor cronies in the cheap seats for a week to help her father and gain some answers for herself.
The script for Trouble with the Curve isn’t bad, but it isn’t good either. The main problem with it is that it’s been done before. It’s one of those films where you can predict what is going to happen early on in the film because we’ve seen this formula numerous times. Trouble with the Curve is very much a studio concept in that each piece of the story was transparently selected to appease a specific demographic — baseball for older men, a teary-eyed father-daughter relationship for their wives, and a date-night-worthy romance for the younger couple sitting next to them.
Eastwood pretty much plays the same character as he played in Gran Torino, just a few years older and, this time, with actual family. His character doesn’t necessarily have many levels to play on and we only really see some varying degree towards the end of the film. Amy Adams, on the other hand, has a little more to work with, in terms of character, but even she can only do so much with what she was given. The third wheel in this group of actors is played by Justin Timberlake as a former baseball player who is now a scout for the Boston Redsox and happens to be scouting Bo while scouting Gus’ daughter at the same time.
Trouble with the Curve isn’t a great movie but it isn’t bad either. It’s also not a film you have to run out and see. Eastwood and Adams are good enough to bring emotion to the screen when it is needed and there are a couple of emotionally-engaging scenes which pull you in, but overall it doesn’t hold up to the great films we’ve come to expect from Eastwood nor some of the wonderful performances we’ve seen previously from Amy Adams. Trouble with the Curve was up to bat, and though it didn’t get a home run, it did get on base.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars