Trouble with the Curve

Directed By: Robert Lorenz

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, Matthew Lillard, and John Goodman

As most of you know by now, Clint Eastwood made some rather interesting remarks at the Republican National Convention several weeks ago to an empty chair in which an invisible Obama supposedly sat.  While I believe his comments were insulting to the presidency, I have a website to run, and I have to be able to separate the political activist from the screen legend.  Without any further ado, here is my review of Eastwood's latest flick Trouble with the Curve, a baseball movie that acts like Moneyball never happened last year.

Aging baseball scout Gus Lobel (Eastwood) is a dinosaur in the industry. The Atlanta Braves scout just refuses to quit despite headwinds within the organization moving against him, namely his cutthroat young co-worker Tom Silver (Matthew Lillard).  Thanks to Gus's longtime friend and colleague Pete Klein (John Goodman), general manager Vince (Robert Patrick) sends Gus on one last scouting trip in North Carolina to test whether he's still got any gas left in the tank.  What they don't know is that he suffers from macular degeneration and is going blind.

While checking in on his friend Gus, Pete senses that something is wrong and reaches out to his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams).  He asks her to join her father on this trip and help him out.  Because she's trying to make partner at her law firm, she's pretty reluctant.  After consulting with her father's doctor, she decides to pack her work and take it on the road with her so she can keep an eye on her father.  A grumpy loner who prefers to do these things by himself, Gus is not too happy to see his daughter when she arrives in North Carolina even though she's exactly what he needs.

Last year, we had Moneyball, the baseball film that changed the game.  It's a movie that depicts that innovation, progress, and change are good for baseball and that the old scouting system is outdated.  Based on a true story, Moneyball surmises that statistics and predictive modeling are crucial in building a winning roster.  Fast forward a year, and we get Trouble with the Curve, a movie saying the exact opposite.  With octogenarian Clint Eastwood in the lead, it's a movie that says that old people know best and that the traditional system works.  Before Moneyball came out, Trouble with the Curve would have been a great baseball movie.  It's too late though.  Now, it just feels like we're getting in a time machine to look at something that would have worked just fine a decade ago.

Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams bring the right dynamics to the film as Gus and Mickey Lobel.  For his part as baseball scout Gus, Eastwood plays on his own public persona in the film.  He's a grumpy guy who grunts a lot.  When he's not grunting, he's giving us a rambling old guy.  Some might consider his performance as a broken down old man a continuation of his stern lecture to an empty chair several weeks ago.  Everyone will consider it entertaining to a degree.  For her part as Mickey Lobel, Amy Adams brings the heart and brains of the film.  Suffering through life as a corporate workhorse, she brings a sharp-tongued character to the screen who can trade barbs with Eastwood with ease.  She also gives us a daughter with deep personal issues who has trouble connecting with men.  It's good to see Adams in a role as a feisty, headstrong character.

In terms of the supporting cast, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman are definitely the standouts.  As Adams's love interest Johnny Flanagan, Timberlake brings his own unique brand of goofy humor.  Whether clogging or lobbying on behalf of Dr. Phil, he's sure to keep the ladies chuckling.  Timberlake better be careful though.  He's 31 now, and this humor he uses in every film has a life span.  For his part, John Goodman is definitely entertaining as Pete Klein.  Bringing comedy and heart to the film, this guy simply does what he does best.  It's worth mentioning that Goodman is busy as hell these days.  Having already appeared in The Artist, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and ParaNorman in the last year, Goodman is set to return to the big screen in Argo and Flight in the coming weeks.

While Trouble with the Curve is successful in being a heartwarming baseball flick, it fails in adapting to a post Moneyball landscape.  Despite enjoyable performances from the cast, we've been there and done that.  This film is retreading old territory.  It doesn't do anything new, and that doesn't work as well now that the game has changed.  To play on the film's obsession with the tune "You Are My Sunshine", Moneyball took its sunshine.  Trouble with the Curve gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few beers with this one.