Trouble With the Curve
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
With the pitchers and catchers heading to camp for spring training this week, I decided I wanted to watch a baseball movie to get me in the proper mood. Perusing the available options, I found a film co-produced by and starring Clint Eastwood that I had really wanted to see in theaters, but had missed out on. I couldn't wait to check out Trouble with the Curve.
In Trouble with the Curve, Clint Eastwood stars as Gus Lobel, a scout for the Atlanta Braves. Gus is getting up in age, but still believes he has the ability to scout out the right players for the Braves the old fashioned way, by heading to the park to watch them play. However, Philip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard) believes in scouting players via computers and statistics. He sees Gus as an old "has been" and wants to prove that Gus should be put out to pasture.
But Gus' boss Pete Klein (John Goodman) is an old friend who has watched Gus find top pick after top pick. He has faith in his friend, but has a sneaking suspicion that Gus isn't telling him everything. Pete contacts Gus' daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), a prominent attorney on her way to becoming a partner at a prestigious law firm. Gus and Mickey don't get along very well thanks to a past that neither of them cares to discuss, but that doesn't stop Mickey from delving into why Gus seems different to Pete.
Learning that her father is suffering from the beginning stages of macular degeneration, Mickey puts her career on the line to aide his, traveling with him to North Carolina to scout hot batting prospect Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill), against Gus' wishes. While there, they connect with Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake) former pitcher and one of Gus' picks back in the day. Flanagan's pitching career is over and he is now scouting Bo Gentry for the Boston Red Sox in hopes of eventually landing a job in the booth as an announcer.
The time Gus and Mickey spend in North Carolina at times brings them together, threatens to tear them apart and definitely brings about some interesting changes and revelations that surprise everyone involved.
Was Trouble with the Curve predictable? Of course it was! But if a movie is predictable, does that make it any less a movie? There is a great deal of emotional angst in this film, well-shouldered by the amazing talents of Amy Adams. Clint Eastwood has perfected his grouchy old man routine that he started in Gran Torino. He's definitely less profane and more politically correct in this film, but he has the grouchy old man thing down. Justin Timberlake is actually very good as a former pitcher looking for a new beginning in life. Who knew Justin could act? Matthew Lillard is deplorable as a man willing to rise to the top on anyone's back. John Goodman is just a great big teddy bear, as opposed to Joe Massingill's Bo Gentry who you end up rooting against by the end of the film.
The storyline is like something ripped out of today's papers and I'm really glad that someone decided to take it on. The new school of thought in scouting relies too heavily on stats and computers, but I believe, as do all those old timer scouts out there, that you can't possibly know a player by just learning about him on the computer. Computers and stats won't tell you if he will be jittery in a large media atmosphere, if he has a hard time adjusting to climate change, if he can field properly or if he's just lucky with the glove...it can't tell you how the player feels every time he steps out into that stadium. That's something you have to see with your own eyes. There are quite a few clutch players out there whose stats don't show how important to the overall team they are. Conversely, there are quite a few players out there whose statistics over-inflate their worth to a team.
I loved the premise of this movie, loved that they touched on how it feels for a successful and well-respected man to begin to lose things they rely on to make ends meet. If you have always relied on your eyes, it's incredibly debilitating to lose vision partially, let alone altogether. The prospect of possibly becoming blind is an incredibly scary thing and Clint Eastwood did a great job exhibiting the various emotional stages of this - the denial, the anger, etc.
There is tremendous chemistry between Amy Adams, Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake and you find yourself rooting their characters on, hoping that they achieve their ultimate goals in this life. I found the father/daughter relationship between Eastwood and Adams to be believable. The unspoken reasons as to their estrangement draw you in, making you wonder just how they got to this point. When the reasons are revealed, they are surprising. This scene may be one of the only problems I found with the movie. Gus' telling of the tale just didn't seem genuine and I didn't much like the bits of Dirty Harry scenes thrown in there in an effort to present the audience with a younger Gus.
I have never been dissatisfied with a Clint Eastwood production and Trouble with the Curve is no exception. Trouble with the Curve is a great uplifting baseball flick for fans of every age.