- Rated PG-13
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All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ou’d be hard pressed to find anything more quintessentially American than baseball and Clint Eastwood, so it’s a little surprising that it took this long for someone to think of combining the two. Though “Trouble with the Curve” isn’t exactly the kind of project that you’d expect would lure Eastwood out of semi-retirement from acting, the fact that the movie is directed by longtime producer Robert Lorenz clearly played a big part in his decision. Eastwood's involvement was a real coup for the first-time helmer, because if it weren't for the film's excellent ensemble cast, "Trouble with the Curve" would have been completely forgettable.
Eastwood plays Gus Lobel, a veteran baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves who still prefers to do things the old-fashioned way compared to his younger colleagues' reliance on stats-based computer programs. (Obviously, he never saw “Moneyball.”) With his contract set to expire in a few months, Gus is given one last chance to prove that his methods are superior when director of scouting Pete Klein (John Goodman) sends him to North Carolina to scout a high school prospect named Bo Gentry who could be the next Albert Pujols. But when Pete learns that Gus has been diagnosed with glaucoma, rendering his eyesight useless and judgment suspect, he persuades Gus’ estranged daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) – a successful lawyer on the verge of being named a partner at her firm – to tag along and help Gus get the job done.
There's no one better than Clint Eastwood when it comes to playing the crusty grouch, but he gets dangerously close to parody in “Trouble with the Curve,” delivering so many lame one-liners that he could be on a TV show called “Old People Say the Darndest Things.” It’s meant to be cute, but it’s not. Thankfully, despite some pretty embarrassing dialogue early on – including two separate instances where he talks to his penis and a hamburger (although sadly, no chairs) – Eastwood is given the opportunity to actually develop his character beyond the role of the curmudgeonly comic relief once Adams comes into the fray. In fact, the movie is just as much Gus’ story as it is Mickey’s, to the point that director Robert Lorenz essentially switches the focus to her midway through.
Both actors deliver solid performances as expected, but the material prevents them from doing anything special with their roles. Justin Timberlake, who plays a former star pitcher turned rival scout, and John Goodman also provide some great support, while Matthew Lillard rounds out the cast as the arrogant front office executive who wants Gus gone. It's hard to imagine "Trouble with the Curve" being any good with lesser actors, because although the film runs a bit long for such a simple story, and Lorenz lays on the drama pretty thick at times, the cast adds just enough class to save the film from its own undoing. It won't be remembered as a great baseball movie, but it's good enough.
Two-Disc Blu-ray Review:
"Trouble with the Curve" limps onto Blu-ray with a lackluster pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes that focus on director Robert Lorenz ("Rising Through the Ranks") and his cast ("For the Love of the Game"), as well as a DVD and UltraViolet copy of the movie.