TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE
*** (out of 5)
September 21, 2012
Clint Eastwood as GUS
Amy Adams as MICKEY
Justin Timberlake as JOHNNY
John Goodman as PETE KLEIN
Matthew Lillard as PHILLIP SANDERSON
Directed by: Robert Lorenz
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’m not a baseball fan. Heck, I’m not a sports fan at all. Sure, I’ll passively follow the games when the Cleveland Indians get in the championships, or when the Browns defy the odds and make it into the playoffs. But on the whole, I don’t care a whiff about sports.
Sports movies can be okay from time to time, but I’m usually not all that excited to watch them. Still, I’ll admit that there are some really great sports films out there, including “Rudy,” “Miracle” and “Remember the Titans.”
All this is kind of moot, though, because “Trouble with the Curve” isn’t really a sports movie. Instead, it’s the story of a father and daughter reconciling some bad blood between them. Unlike last year’s “Moneyball” around this time, “Trouble with the Curve” isn’t as concerned with inside baseball as it is with what makes the characters do what they do.
This is both its strength and its weakness, but more on that in a moment.
The story follows Gus (Clint Eastwood), an aging baseball scout whose team is considering letting him go. Facing some medical issues, he’s joined on his latest high school scouting trip by is estranged daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to help him keep it together. Along the way, they are forced to face the issues that caused them so many problems in their lives. Oh, and they scout some players as well.
First, let’s get the jokes out of the way… No, Clint Eastwood doesn’t have a scene in which he berates an empty chair. He kicks over a coffee table at one point, but that’s the only trouble with furniture he has. But beyond this ironically funny moments, the film manages to hold together and can be very entertaining.
In a way, this movie reminds me of “The Blind Side,” though I don’t think it’s going to get the award accolades that film did (even if those were somewhat undeserved). Like “The Blind Side,” “Trouble with the Curve” is more about the relationships than it is about the sport. It also is similarly a button-pusher that pulls at the audience’s emotions a little too deliberately to be subtle.
Still, the movie is extremely well cast, with Eastwood, Adams and even underrated actor Justin Timberlake knock it out of the park. (I couldn’t resist that pun. Sorry.)
Though it seems like it would have been an appropriate project for him, Eastwood didn’t direct “Trouble with the Curve.” Instead, he handed off the reigns to long-time producer Robert Lorenz. This was actually a smart move because Eastwood is a little too slow paced in his recent years to give it the punch that Lorenz did.
Of course, the movie stumbles a bit in the third act when the whole inside baseball elements show up again and take things over. It also gets unnecessarily dark at one point, which seems out of character for the film. We’re left with a sometimes annoyingly predictable and cliche ending, which only marginally works for the film.
However, the cast and the overall tone of the movies helps it rise above its cheaper elements. It’s entertaining and charming, and that helped me look past a lot of its problems. It’s not brilliant filmmaking, but it’s enjoyable for what it is.