Trouble with the Curve
Written by Randy Brown
Directed by Robert Lorenz
Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake
Clint Eastwood is back on the big screen as yet another gruff, tough old-timer who smokes cigars and has a secret sweet side. Only this time around, he’s all about baseball.
Although Trouble with the Curve seems like it’s all about baseball, too, you never learn or see much more of the game than Eastwood’s remarks about the clean sound a ball makes when a player swings and connects correctly. You’re faced with the glaring reality of how a single father believes that sacrificing his relationship with his daughter is better in the long run. It’s more about family dynamics — balancing work and home life and protecting your children.
The movie centers around Gus (Eastwood), a veteran baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves. Set in his old ways, Gus refuses to use technology to determine the stats of potential players — alienating him from his younger co-workers and making him a target for replacement. Having always relied on his personal evaluation of the players at game time, his failing eyesight now threatens to retire him as well.
When he’s sent to North Carolina to check out a potential prodigy, Gus’s friend and co-worker Pete (John Goodman) convinces Gus’s workaholic lawyer daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), that her father’s career depends on her help. Mickey is vying for partnership at her male-dominated law firm and has a more-than-rocky relationship with her father, but she reluctantly abandons the office to come to his aid.
She soon catches the eye of rival Red Sox scout Johnny “The Flame” Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), who is checking out the same prospective player. Amidst the swings and misses in both the game and the romance, Gus and Mickey’s dysfunctional relationship is forced into the spotlight, with Mickey trying to reconnect with the father who once abandoned her.
Our first glimpse of Gus shows him as a crotchety senior who has trouble urinating, trips over furniture, crashes his car into his garage and eats Spam, “the breakfast of champions.” Eastwood does well with this surly character, but probably because it’s so familiar to him. There’s nothing new in his role, so it all feels fairly predictable and safe.
However, he and Adams do have a good rapport as father and daughter. Adams is convincing, but the screenplay seems to give her a lot of downtime for a scout aid by day and a long distance lawyer by night. The charming Timberlake fits well into his role of the confident and endearing ex-baseball-player, providing a little relief from the hardened pair.
Although it tries, Trouble with the Curve doesn’t offer many curves of its own. It’s fairly predictable, but does offer its fair share of humorous quips. If you’re an Eastwood fan you won’t be disappointed, but baseball fans should expect more emotional family moments and less of the actual sport.
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.