By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 7 out of 10
In 2011, Best Picture nominee Moneyball took us inside the world of sabermetrics, or how the usage of statistics and computers instead of conventional scouting helped advance the game of baseball. Now, in 2012, Trouble With the Curve takes the look at the other side of the argument; scouts who have years of experience under their belts and enough knowledge of the game to predict whether or not a prospect is worth the investment. Led by a strong performance by the legendary Clint Eastwood, Trouble With the Curve manages to move past a weak script and a redundant story to produce an entertaining experience.
A long-time baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves, Gus Lobel (Eastwood) is given one last assignment to track a prospect who the Braves are considering picking up with the number two pick in the draft. With his job on the line, he is joined by his daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams) and Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake), a former pro who Mickey scouted.
Clint Eastwood seems to be the primary actor in this film but the truth is that the screen time and primary plot is as much about Amy Adams’ rendition of Mickey as it is about Gus. Eastwood, a living legend onscreen, does the best that he can in his role and brings a great deal to the role. Doing the best that he can to fight the new-age trend in baseball of using computers in exchange for wit and the eye test, Gus struggles to fight his own shortcomings that increase with age and tries to make the best call that he can on a big prospect.
It’s a difficult and heavy decision for Gus to make and the chiseled, definitive façade of confidence that he exhibits early on is quickly eradicated and supplanted by uncertainty and a resistance to any help, be it from his daughter or from Johnny. It’s the perfect role for Eastwood, who only has to combine his roles from Gran Torino and Space Cowboys to properly play the character with the confidence that he is doing a proper job.
Mickey, on the other hand, is in a turning point in her career where she has the opportunity to become a partner at the firm she currently works for. Facing a massive project but learning the trouble that her father’s career is in, Mickey decides to take care of her father who left her to her aunt and uncle before shipping her off to a boarding school while she was young.
The chemistry between Eastwood and Adams strengthens greatly throughout the film as we learn more and more about their relationship together. It is a common feeling that sports is a bridge for families and people who need something to cling to and in Trouble With the Curve, it is the bridge that reconnects Mickey and Gus. Having the two of them together scouting this high school athlete provides them the opportunity to rekindle a parent/child relationship and the two well-seasoned actors nail the connection between one another.
Trouble with the Curve has a great deal of humor, most of which comes from the environment around the characters and not the characters themselves. Things just seem to go wrong around Gus and Mickey and how they react to the constant chaos around them is very funny at times. There are moments where Clint’s standard method of acting ends up being the butt of the joke and it works out because he just plays along with it.
Then there are the moments where the chemistry between the two tugs at your heartstrings. This is a severely distressed father/daughter relationship and every time they come close to breaking through, something comes between them and threatens to tear everything apart once again. Watching these scenes, you are pulling for both characters but everything seems to come crashing down at the last second. As the two close the gap that has been built for reasons not revealed until the end of the movie, it fully engrosses you in the tale between the two.
That said, the simplicity of the plot and the by-the-numbers approach severely hinders what could have been an outstanding conclusion for the film. Trouble with the Curve falls flat because it all just feels too familiar; a little bit of creativeness or perhaps a different ending would have done the film well. Although the film is well acted and well-paced, it will be tossed away as another re-hash of a familiar story because the viewers will feel like they’ve seen this movie several times over before.
Led by the strength of its cast, Trouble with the Curve is a solid family comedy wrapped up in a story about baseball. Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams turn in solid performances, but the redundancy of the story and screenplay will turn viewers off quickly. For those attempting to see Moneyball: Part Two, Trouble with the Curve will leave you immensely disappointed. However, if you want to see the journey between a father and daughter towards rekindling their relationship with baseball as a backdrop, Trouble with the Curve is definitely worth a look.