Trouble with the Curve (2012)

Directed by Robert Lorenz
Written by Randy Brown

I have been quoted, perhaps not too famously as I am merely a lowly cinephile, that I have not met a baseball movie I have not liked. This much is true and should serve as a sort of warning to all those who read this review. But that being said, I, as ever, will attempt to confront the strengths and weaknesses of the film as I saw them. At the end of the day I am more than likely going to forgive the weaknesses more so than most for the simple fact that baseball and I have a unique bond that will never be broken. But let’s get things straight, this film is not perfect. It is nowhere near perfect. But neither is baseball, and that is what makes it a beautiful game. In its imperfections it becomes perfect. The same cannot be said for Trouble with the Curve, but nonetheless, it is not without its charm.

Gus (Clint Eastwood) is an aging talent scout for the Atlanta Braves. One of the best scouts in the game during his hayday, Gus discovers the methods around him changing. His vision is worsening, and the new computer-guided wiz kid in the front office (Matthew Lillard) wants him out of the way when it comes to scouting top prospect Bo Gentry. Longtime friend and colleague Pete (John Goodman) employs the help of Gus’s daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams) to defnd her father’s job. So the young, independent Mickey travels with Gus, and fellow scouts, including the young Red Sox scout Johnny (Justin Timberlake), to Carolina to scout the impressive Gentry. The tension of a father/daughter relationship that has been neglected is accented by the hectic professional life led by Mickey, and her budding relationship with Johnny.

The story never really rises above run of the mill. It is a stock storyline of the daughter neglected by the workaholic dad who didn’t know how to raise his kid when his wife died. So he just didn’t. Fine. It serves its purpose. But where some films may have at least tried to add its own flair of originality, this film settles for doing what it does, but doing it fairly well at least. It is not far reaching, nor overly ambitious, but it sets its ducks up in a row and knocks them down, and for that it cannot be faulted. And what really makes the film enjoyable is the characters, and the actors portraying them.

I didn’t think it was possible to love Amy Adams more than I already did, but add the fact that she is baseball crazy in this film and my love for her has indeed grown. Justin Timberlake remains a charismatic figure in pop culture and despite the fact that he comes from a 90s boy band beginning, I must continue to see his talented self pop up here and there to impress me just enough. And kudos to the filmmakers for making the relationship between Timberlake and Adams as prominent as it was. It was simple, but handled nicely, and enough of a break from the main story of Adams and Eastwood. Eastwood reprises his “Angry Old Man” role from Gran Torino here and honestly becomes quite grating at times. I wanted to burst out laughing in what was supposed to be a poignant moment when he sings at his wife’s grave. I think he must take himself too seriously. But lucky enough, his interaction with Adams is able to counterbalance his performance enough to make it passable.

Miguel Cabrera is very close to becoming the first player to win the Triple Crown (league leader in home runs, runs batted in, and batting average) since the 1960s. And yet, there is still a heated debate as to who deserves to be crowned the league’s most valuable player. How ironic that this film comes out at the same time this is happening, because both events are based on the concept that the game is not played on paper. In the movie’s case, life is not lived on paper, and we can see that as the power of forgiveness and of love, both familial and romantic, come full force from surprising places. But also in the game of baseball as I would argue Mike Trout, the young outfielder, is just as deserving of the award as Cabrera for the things he does in addition to those that can be accumulated on a stat sheet. Trouble with the Curve is not a great movie, but it does have some heart, and some tried and true drama that satisfies. Sure, if you’re a fan of the game it may be a tad more satisfying, but I think this is a film with enough entertain at least marginally for a few hours.

*** – Very Good

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