There appears to be no stopping the career of the legendary Clint Eastwood. After an embarrassingly painful appearance at the recent Republican convention that caused some to question his 82 year old faculties, the iconic actor is still mesmerizing – and his appearance in Trouble with the Curve is the only thing that saves this baseball film from being a no-hitter.
Eastwood plays Gus Lobel, a crotchety old talent scout for the Atlanta Braves baseball club. His eyesight is failing and he is well past his retirement age, but he loves and lives for his job. Some of the team’s managers, however, feel it’s time to put the old guy out to pasture and his future employment depends on whether he can deliver a potential star-rookie to the team.
Gus lost his wife when his daughter, Mickey, was a young girl and though he spent a few years on the road with her, he eventually placed her in boarding schools and rarely saw the young woman. As the story begins, Mickey (Amy Adams) is now a successful attorney who is up for a promotion to a full-partner in her law firm, but she is estranged from her ill-tempered father.
One of Lobel’s management pals (John Goodman) convinces Mickey that her father is in need of her assistance and she takes a short working trip to try and convince her Dad to see a doctor about his vision problems. While trying to emotionally reconnect with her father and remotely stay on top of her job, she also becomes involved with another baseball talent scout and former player, Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake).
What follows is a standard and predictable story where all of the character’s problems would easily be resolved if they would just talk and listen to each other – which they eventually do. Trouble with the Curve is more of a relationship film than a baseball flick and there’s nothing really new added to either film genre.
In the end, there is a forced allegory regarding Gus being forced to listen for the sounds of the baseball pitches, because of his eyesight issues, in order to determine the player’s prowess – all this at the same time he finally learns to listen to his daughter and understand his love for her.
I’m sure this all sounded a lot better on paper, in the screenplay by writer Randy Brown; but first time director Robert Lorenz – who is a longtime assistant director for many of Eastwood’s own directorial efforts (Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River) – seems to struggle with piecing this material together.
The father/daughter interaction between Eastwood and Adams is believable in this film, but it’s all of the lackluster subplots that surround the relationship that weigh the film down, including the hackneyed romance between Mickey and Johnny and the efforts of a young Braves manager (Matthew Lillard) to try and get Gus fired.
Despite its flaws, Trouble with the Curve is still entertaining and although there is plenty of TV-movie caliber melodrama in this film, Clint Eastwood’s performance raises it up several points. If you are not an Eastwood fan, then I’d avoid this movie altogether – otherwise, it’s not a home run, but it’s good enough to make your day. Grade: 6/10