Trouble with the Curve

Cast:
Clint Eastwood as Gus Lobel
Amy Adams as Mickey
Justin Timberlake as Johnny
Matthew Lillard as Phillip Sanderson
Robert Patrick as Vince
John Goodman as Pete Klein
Joe Massingill as Bo Gentry
Chelcie Ross as Smitty
Raymond Anthony Thomas as Lucious
Ed Lauter as Max
Clifton Guterman as Neil
George Wyner as Rosenbloom
Bob Gunton as Watson
Jack Gilpin as Schwartz
Scott Eastwood as Billy Clark

Directed by Robert Lorenz

Summary:
Though “Trouble with the Curve” features a likable cast, it is too predictable and awkward to rise above simply being mediocre.

Story:
Gus Lobel is an aging baseball scout. Despite the fact that he’s one of the best at his job, old age is starting to catch up with him and it’s starting to affect his job. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that young upstarts are also trying to force him out at the home office. None of this sits well with the crotchety and independent Gus.

Looking for some way to help Gus, his friend Pete Klein approaches Gus’ daughter Mickey. He asks her to accompany her father on a critical scouting job in North Carolina. Mickey is a rising star at her law firm and has a strained relationship with her father, but she decides to help out Gus. None of this sits well with Gus, either.

As Gus and Mickey reluctantly spend time together, each learns to let go and see where life takes them.

“Trouble with the Curve” is rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking.

What Worked:
As far as casts go, “Trouble with the Curve” has a likable one. Clint Eastwood continues to be typecast as the grouchy old man. Amy Adams is the beautiful everywoman with a hint of tomboy. It’s a lighter version of her role in “The Fighter.” Then you have familiar faces like Matthew Lillard, Robert Patrick, and John Goodman. And while I’m not really a fan of Justin Timberlake, I have to say he brought a lot of life to this movie as Johnny. With Eastwood acting so mean and Adams acting so frustrated, Timberlake offers much needed levity to the story.

The marketing of this film is also pretty clever. I saw the ads and thought it was a baseball movie with Clint Eastwood. My wife saw the ads and thought of it as a father-daughter chick flick with Amy Adams. We both wanted to see it for different reasons. In reality it’s both, but there’s a lot more father-daughter relationship stuff than baseball stuff. Any man going into this thinking they’re getting a sports flick is actually getting a stealth chick flick. So hats off to the marketers of “Trouble with the Curve.”

What Didn’t Work:
Despite the likable cast, “Trouble with the Curve” has a lot of problems, and most of them can be traced back to the script. This is simply a very predictable, ‘by the numbers’ story. You can tell exactly how it will end by watching the trailers alone. There are no surprises, no clever characters, or anything else to give it any real life. The couple of times the story does try something different involving Gus and Mickey’s back story or a surprise baseball talent, it feels very forced. The story is also quite repetitive. Gus has some problem with old age, Mickey attempts to help him, he grouches at her, then she gets frustrated and storms out on him. They’re then back together in the very next scene. It happens numerous times and gets old (no pun intended) fast.

Along with that, the dialogue is very awkward. Gus talks to himself (and his penis) and it doesn’t flow well…..the dialogue or the penis. Amy Adams also delivers a lot of lines to convince us that her character is a lifelong baseball fan, but none of it sounds very authentic. Joe Massingill plays the cocky baseball star Bo Gentry. He keeps talking about ‘bangin’ chicks’ when he becomes a star. It’s over the top comedy and doesn’t seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the film. Then there’s the hokum of using computer statistics vs. natural instinct to pick players. This film bashes use of statistics in picking players in another misguided effort to sound genuine. But after seeing “Moneyball,” even the casual moviegoer knows there’s room for stats as well as “the Force,” even if Eastwood is starting to look like Yoda.

“Trouble with the Curve” then ends on a completely unrealistic, ‘feel good’ conclusion that comes across as being tacked on rather than a natural conclusion of the story. It exemplifies what this whole movie is intended to be – a generic crowd pleaser. I think this is the kind of movie that anyone who cares about story and dialogue will hate, but that will perform well at the box office because people like the stars.

The Bottom Line:
“Trouble with the Curve” isn’t particularly good and it isn’t particularly bad. It’s simply average. This one is more of a renter or something to watch on TV than a film to catch in theaters.

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