[Review] – Trouble With The Curve

8 Oct

Title: Trouble with the Curve
Year: 2012
Director: Robert Lorenz
Writer: Randy Brown
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, Matthew Lillard, John Goodman
MPAA Rating: PG-13, language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking
Runtime: 111 min
IMDb Rating: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Metacritic: 58

Trouble with the Curve is a nice little adult-oriented movie, the kind that exists in this world because older people will pay to watch it even though there are no explosions in it, which made it possible for this film to begin filming back in March of this year and find its way into theaters just half a year later. It’s also a nice little movie in the sense that, yes, it may be quite predictable and it has no real thrills to it, but it more than makes do and is worthy of a recommendation from me just because of its cast, its trio of lead performers that have such charisma and chemistry with each other that you just buy into it all.

That cast is of course led by Clint Eastwood. Now, as you may have heard or realized, seeing Mr. Eastwood here is a bit of a surprise; after all, the man had pretty much said he’d given up on acting after he starred in his own Gran Torino back in 2008, saying that he’d spent his time just directing from now on, rarer still then that he didn’t direct this film, marking the first time he’s appeared on screen for a director other than himself since Wolfgang Petersen‘s In the Line of Fire back in 1993.

Mr. Eastwood agreed to do this one for Robert Lorenz, who makes his directorial debut here after working very closely with Mr. Eastwood for the past decade, being a producer on all of his films since 2002’s Blood Work and also working as a first assistant director for him on the likes of Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. So yeah, Mr. Lorenz decided he wanted to direct on his own for the first time and Mr. Eastwood backed him up and agreed to star here as Gus Lobel, an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves who’s been one of the best at what he does for decades but is given one last assignment to prove his worth to the organization who doubts what he can do at his age as well as his inability to adapt to the changes in the business.

The always solid John Goodman has a supporting turn here as Pete Klein, Gus’ his boss and close friend who really doesn’t want to see him go and who enlists the help of the one person Gus would never ask to join him on the trip to make sure everything’s okay: Gus’ daughter, Mickey, who, as you might guess, he hasn’t been an ideal father to. She’s played by the delightful Amy Adams, an associate at a big Atlanta law firm who’s on track to become partner sooner rather than later and who, against her father’s objections and her own judgement, decides to go along for the trip even though it would probably hurt her own career.

They go to North Carolina, with Gus bringing in the fact that he has all this old-school knowledge of the game and Mickey helping him out with the fact that his vision is not what it used to be. There they meet Johnny Flanagan, played by Justin Timberlake here, the young scout of a rival team who has a history with Gus and who, wouldn’t you know it, develops a little something-something for Mickey.

Like I said, just from that plot description there you can probably pinpoint every single predictable step Trouble with the Curve is going to take along the way, but those three performers that you stick with during this scouting trip are more than worth the price of admission. I mean I don’t want to go for the obvious metaphor here but I have no choice: even if Trouble with the Curve is no home-run you can still sure as hell consider it a nice solid double with a man on first and be happy about it.

Happy because even though this kind of grumpy old man role is the same one Mr. Eastwood has played in most of his past acting performances he still makes it work because he’s Clint-fuckin’-Eastwood, he has charm to spare. It’s just always a sheer pleasure to see him on screen, and even though this film gets to be overly sentimental at times it’s always entertaining in how it does that because of the fact that the sentiments come between him and Ms. Adams, who gives the best performance of the movie and who has this amazing chemistry with the living legend.

Every actor here just brings the best they have to the table even if the roles don’t provide all that much. Mr. Eastwood is so very obviously the grumpy old man who can tell how good a pitch is just from the sound it makes when it hits the back and who doesn’t realize his time may be done, but he does it better than anyone. Ms. Adams gets this totally bland role of the daughter who may be a lawyer but always loved baseball because of her dad, but she transcends those limitations and makes Mickey a fully fleshed-out character. Mr. Timberlake, who continues to surprise as an actor both on account of his talent and his ability to choose the right gigs with the right people, gets this character who’s totally a one-note pony and he makes it work on charm alone.

Moreover, even though this is a story we may know, it’s impossible not to enjoy it because it’s just tremendously well-made. Yes, each character gets this conflict which is neatly laid out for them to surpass on the final act with no surprises, but it’s told with an utter professionalism that makes it stand out, and you still get two or three moments that are really fantastic. Take the scene in the restaurant when Mickey confronts Gus about what a father he was to her while she grew up, the actors play that scene straight forward, without much of a fuss but with total honesty. That kind of simplicity is what Trouble with the Curve is all about, a predictable and sentimental affair filled with three faces that make for a really good way to spend a couple of hours.

Grade: B

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One Response to “[Review] – Trouble With The Curve”

  1. Nostra October 8, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Saw this yesterday and it was a bit too predictable to me. I would compare it to a hamburger from McDonald’s, you’ll like it, but will not be surprised by it. It was very predictable, but it was entertaining.

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