Trouble with the Curve
Alternate English Title: Back in the Game
Release date: September 21, 2012
Directed by: Robert Lorenz
Screenplay by: Randy Brown
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard, Robert Patrick, Scott Eastwood, Joe Massingil, Jay Galloway
Trouble with the Curve marks Clint Eastwood’s return to acting at the hands of Robert Lorenz, a longtime collaborator who produced many of his films over the past decade and is now making his directorial debut — yeah, you could say Eastwood is throwing Lorenz a bone (or ball).
Anyways, Eastwood stars as Gus Lobel, an old-school baseball scout who is pretty much an anti-Moneyball [see: stats input] guy given his old-school approach towards the sport. However, old age kicks in and his eyesight begins to deteriorate, making it difficult for Gus to scout for his team, the Atlanta Braves. As he travels to North Carolina to scout Bo Gentry (Massingil), a highly touted young talent, his boss and friend Pete (Goodman) convinces Mickey (Adams), Gus’s daughter and a workaholic lawyer climbing her way up in her firm, to join him and make sure he’s okay, against Gus’s wishes (and pride).
Trouble with the Curve showcases baseball from the perspective of baseball agents and the scouting process. However, Lorenz’s debut film is actually more of a “father and daughter reconnect” type of film, an aspect that is displayed more often than the scouting, the games and the love story between Mickey and Johnny Flanagan (Timberlake), a pitcher-turned-scout that Gus once recruited as a high school phenom, but then retired due to an arm injury.
Gus and Mickey haven’t been close in years. After Mickey’s mother died, Gus kept Mickey out of his life . When they meet again after a very long time, there’s conflict: Mickey still wants her father’s love and attention, Gus avoids the subject because he’s trying to avoid a forced retirement. He also has trouble expressing that he loves her.
The strained relationship between Gus and Mickey is easily the film’s biggest strength despite how predictable and slow-paced Trouble with the Curve is. The storylines are easily mapped out thanks to an average screenplay that borrows elements from Million Dollar Baby, but lacks subtlety and doesn’t end up being great. Thankfully, the cast can make you ignore the film’s weaknesses for the most part.
While Eastwood served fine as the main character, it’s Amy Adams who stands out. She’s one of the most likable actresses in the world, but she pulls double duty in Trouble with the Curve, playing a character who is depicted as a strong woman at first, but then struggles to keep her emotions bottled up. The rest of the supporting cast was decent, but Matthew Lillard’s character could have been used to spice up the film’s pacing, considering he lives and dies by computer statistics and considers Gus as a relic of the past. Instead, he felt cartoonish in a final scene that ends up wrapping everything on a neat happy ending.
Most moviegoers will check out this film because of Eastwood’s return to acting, but Adams steals the show thanks to how Mickey evolves throughout the film and makes the film a lot more watchable despite its formulaic feeling.