Trouble With the Curve

Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams star in a picture about an aging father who’s having difficulties with his job, and has never connected well with his daughter. Together they try to work out their issues, scout a highly touted baseball prospect, and navigate her issues with work and romance.

It’s a lot of ground to cover, and the movie isn’t able to avoid the temptation to utilize simple solutions and pat resolutions. But the considerable charms of the cast make “Trouble With the Curve” a mildly enjoyable, if ultimately forgettable experience.

Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) has been a scout for the Atlanta Braves for decades. Now, a hotshot young member of the scouting department (Matthew Lillard) utilizing the latest computer technology is threatening Gus’ way of doing things.  The head of the scouting department, Pete (John Goodman), is concerned… the hotshot young scout has the GM’s (Robert Patrick) ear. Gus has also been losing his eyesight, and is beginning to demonstrate difficulties with common things like driving. So Pete speaks to Gus’ daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams) and asks her to accompany Gus on a scouting trip to the Carolinas. The Braves have a high pick in the first round, there’s a coveted prospect to be looked at, and Gus’ contract is up for renewal in a few short months. The stakes are high.

Mickey reluctantly agrees.

She and her father have had a strained relationship since her mother died (when Mickey was a young girl). Mickey is also up for a partnership at her law firm, and the timing here is terrible for her professionally. She needs to juggle her work responsibilities while trying to assist her father. Her work has been first and foremost in her life, which hasn’t left her much time for romantic relationships, either. Enter Johnny (Justin Timberlake), a former pitching prospect that Gus scouted who threw out his arm and is now working as a scout himself. When he crosses paths with Mickey, a romance begins to blossom.

All is not conflict free, however. Aside from Mickey’s difficulties in handling her professional responsibilities, and trying to sort out her issues with her crotchety father, and the developing romance between her and Johnny, Gus and Johnny are scouting the same player for rival teams, and Gus is forming an opinion on the prospect contrary to what his scouting department wants to hear.

“Trouble With the Curve” is a drama that’s not overly dramatic, a romance that isn’t overly romantic, and a baseball movie that doesn’t have a lot of baseball. By trying to juggling too many elements at once, the script weakens itself to the point where none of the storylines are that well-developed. There’s a reliance on simple set ups and simple solutions. The end of the movie can be seen coming from miles away, even with the Deus Ex Machina they interject at the last moment. The actors in this film can each perform their roles in their sleep. Clint plays a cranky old man, Amy Adams needs to be adorable as the girl who knows too much about baseball to be real, and Justin Timberlake just needs to be affable as the nice guy who can win her heart and meet with her father’s approval.

Fortunately, the cast is comprised from top to bottom with performers that people like. Even the smaller roles are filled with the likes of John Goodman, Robert Patrick and Matthew Lillard. So the watchability factor here will most likely outweigh any issues people wind up having with the predictability and the mild nature of the drama. Clint Eastwood is good at this, he’s everyone’s favorite cantankerous old man. Amy Adams is a sweetheart, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love her. So watching them play roles that are tailor-made for their traditional onscreen personas isn’t the worst thing in the world, even in a movie that plays things extremely safe.

B-

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34 thoughts on “Trouble With the Curve

  1. I couldn’t wait to hear your take on this one. I completely agree. I thought it would be the perfect movie for me…. Baseball and romance… Could it get better…. Umm, the reality of it all: Yes it could be much better. It took a while to wind up. And when it did, it was a little underwhelming. The predictability was enough that even my 13 year old saw it coming. I was especially bothered by the way they had to force feed us the meaning of the title… did they think we were idiots? Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the worst movie ever, I may watch it again on tv some day.

    We saw it mainly because we live Clint, but it definitely was no Grand Torino.

    • Oh my lord, not even the same ballpark as Gran Torino. :D

      LOTS of “Spoonfeeding” going on. How about the foreshadowing with the peanut vendor? I mean, cmon….

      Wasn’t terrible though. And TRUST ME, you guys still DEFINITELY made the right call going to the as opposed to “House at the End of the Street”! LOL

  2. Good review Fogs. Here’s the thing with this movie: I liked the cast, I liked some of the story, and I liked how it was pleasant, but you cannot tell me that this is the movie that Clint is going to end us on? Seriously, this isn’t crap, but it comes somewhat close due to the fact that everything is so predictable and obvious, that I even saw the final twist coming a mile away. I think Clint should do one more swan song, and then be done because I think he’s got one more big film left in him. I know it.

    • I totally agree….he can’t leave us on this one…
      And the “twist” as you put it, yes, i called it at the first hint. :)

    • Oh, I agree. I was thinking “Gran Torino” should have been his last film as an actor, that would have been perfect. And what a great character that would have been to have as a last role… as opposed to this guy. :(

      But you know, I’m sure thats not the way he’s thinking about things, I’m sure he just still wants to work and act and do the things he loves. No one thinks “This’ll be the last one, so I’ll make it good”. You know?

  3. Sounds like they tried to hit a home run with the cast, but struck out with the story. Trying to slide the romance part past us with Timberlake hot doggin it and trying to get to first base with Amy Adams. But no one really stole the show and made this a diamond in the rough. So next time they pitch something like this, it’s a safe bet they will change up the way they base the film to be not so far out in left field. I think I’ll catch this one on Netflix and not run to the theater.

    Nice run down Fog’s, I think you tagged this one right!

  4. Good eval, Dan. I was between a B & a B-, and I think you got in right with the B -. The movie never got up to full speed for me. Loved Amy Adams though. She’s so adorable.

  5. Sounds like what I was expecting, but I’ll check it out for two reasons:

    1) It’s a baseball movie.
    2) I like the cast.

    Definitely a ‘rainy day matinee’ type film, as someone suggested above.

  6. but soo much was put in that was unnecessary. I’ll be honest, I expected a little bit lower score after you said:

    1. ”Trouble With the Curve” a mildly enjoyable, if ultimately forgettable experience.
    2. By trying to juggling too many elements at once, the script weakens itself to the point where none of the storylines are that well-developed.

    and, my personal favorite:

    3. Justin Timberlake just needs to be affable as the nice guy who can win her heart and meet with her father’s approval.

    Timberlake barely meets up to ANYONE’s approval it seems. :D

    all in all though, it was alright. Funny how we both ended up stated something similar in that there wasn’t enough baseball to call it a baseball movie, or enough drama for it to simply be a drama.

    as you said before…great minds think alike, and in that, it seems, we did! :)

    • To me, a B- is a barely passable grade. On the podcast, I give it a “Meh”. It was slightly better than completely mediocre due to the charms of the cast, you know?

      Aside from that, there’s not a lot to recommend here.

  7. Pingback: The Large Association of Movie Blogs | LAMBScores: Judges, Cops, Ghosts, and Eastwood

  8. Actually, I really enjoyed this film. I respect the fact that this film for all it’s imperfections was about life. Yes there’s predictability here but fun venues too. I understand thinking rock solid cast might be a distraction, however I savored the fact that the supporting roles were strong. Timberlake was an amusing storyline maybe even comic relief in parts showing great presence onscreen; he knows what he is in every role and delivers with his cast be it Curve, In Time, or Social Network(even if I’m humming “Bring it on in to Omletteville” from SNL).

    There’s definitely a lot going on in the story and maybe the balance of the pieces could be better. We all know someone that has or have ourselves experienced health, job, and relationship challenges, so it’s not just likeability that drives this film it’s relating to the characters’ challenges. AND of course a national pastime with baseball however slender the bleacher scenes are. I dug the flick; it’s a solid rental in my book. Nice post.

    Btw, thanks for teaching me Latin.
    de·us ex ma·chi·na
    1.(in ancient Greek and Roman drama) a god introduced into a play to resolve the entanglements of the plot.
    2.any artificial or improbable device resolving the difficulties of a plot :-)

    • LOL. I picked that up from video games. :D Deus Ex!

      Anyways, Glad to hear you enjoyed it… I always root for people to enjoy a movie, even if I didn’t. But looking back, I did put the grade at a B-, which is still a mild recommendation I guess. :D

      The cast was the main reason it was as decent as it was. I think with lesser stars, this would have been a snore…capped with some eyerolling. LOL

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