Thursday, September 20, 2012

The ‘Trouble with the Curve’ isn’t the Actors



Mickey (Amy Adams) has a hard time getting her father (Clint Eastwood) to talk.

Warner Bros. “Trouble with the Curve” marks the feature film directorial debut of Clint Eastwood’s longtime producing partner, Robert Lorenz. Not surprisingly, it stars Eastwood (sans chair) as an aging baseball scout who may be past his prime. What is a surprise is that this is more of a touchy-feely movie than a sports movie. It is also full of stereotypes, clichés and a few clunky lines. However, what the movie lacks in story-telling, it makes up in star power.

Gus Lobel (Eastwood) has many years of baseball scouting under his belt, who relies on the old school ways of finding future baseball stars. While younger scouts rely more on computer stats, Lobel still travels across the country in search of the next big star. However, the Atlanta Braves are starting to question his judgment and his body is starting to rebel against him. Gus’ boss, Pete (John Goodman), becomes concerned about his old friend and convinces Gus’ daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), to join Gus on his latest scouting trip. While on the trip, they run into Johnny Flanagan(a name that is just as flashy as Justin Timberlake who stars in the role), a former scouting pick of Gus’ who had to give up the game due to an injury.

There is no denying that Eastwood and Adams make a good acting pair. Eastwood plays his trademark “angry old man” role and Adams, an ice queen. Timberlake plays the sensitive good guy. The movie is at its best when Eastwood and Adams are together. She looks like one of the few actresses who can get away with telling Mr. Eastwood off. Timberlake on the other hand is just “okay” with his role which doesn’t have much depth. He is like a puppy wanting attention of two emotionally distant characters who love each other, but can’t seem to find the words to tell the other one.

In addition, there are a couple side stories with predictable outcomes including one with Matthew Lillard as the Braves’ Associate Director of Scouting and the villain of the story. He would like nothing better than to take Gus’ place. Give him a mustache and he would make a wonderful Snidely Whiplash.

Finally, the movie tries too hard to be sentimental. Johnny is first seen pretending to be a sports announcer at a Little League-ish game. Later, he and Mickey decide to dance on the sidewalk to the music of a local guitar player. At one point, Mickey apparently forgets that she is angry with her father and joyfully runs around the bases only to be upset with her father once again in the next scene. Eastwood crones “You are My Sunshine” at a gravestone.  And on it goes. All well-meaning, but ultimately, provides eye-rolling instead.

The truth of the matter is this – Eastwood, Adams and Goodman are actually over-qualified for this film. If you are a baseball fan, you’ll leave disappointed. If you are in the mood for something sappy, this is your movie. Still, you could do worse. The ultimate theme of the flick is restoration and it ends on a happy note. (Originally published on Examiner.com)

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