Trouble with the Curve is the other side of Moneyball, telling the story of an elderly baseball scout who travels the country finding talented players. What’s lost, however, is his connection to his daughter. TwtC explores the reconnection of the curmudgeon Gus (Clint Eastwood) and his estranged daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) while exploring the changing nature of baseball. A simple movie that continues Eastwood’s rumination on aging, Trouble with the Curve has moments of brilliance but is overstuffed, trying to serve too many masters.
Trouble with the Curve shines when it focuses on the dynamic between Mickey—a successful lawyer who puts her career on hold to help her father—and Gus, whose body is failing him while his mind remains as sharp as ever. Likewise the development of a relationship between Mickey and Johnny (Justin Timberlake)—a washed-up baseball player who has become a scout for a rival team—is touching and engaging. This is the kind of role Timberlake should be taking, where his natural charm is allowed to shine through.
The script is full of clichéd, simple dialogue that would drag down lesser actors. Director Robert Lorenz has populated the supporting cast with solid performers including John Goodman and Robert Patrick, elevating the movie from mediocrity. The lack of nuance means that the film won’t challenge the audience and first-time director Lorenz (a longtime assistant to Eastwood) didn’t feel comfortable making changes that would benefit the final product.
What begins as a hardcore baseball movie ends up being a personal story about a daddy and daughter rebuilding their relationship, winding up with a happy ending that you’ll see coming a mile away. Good performances keep me from panning this movie but its great moments are overshadowed by overwrought drama and overstuffed jokes about getting old that, themselves, grow old quickly.
When it works, Trouble with the Curve is engaging and fantastic. Eastwood growls through the entire movie but it works for the character. His dynamic with his daughter—she just as stubborn as he—is delightful and pays off fabulously. The love story, which should have been the focus, ends simply but develops wonderfully. But because the flicks jump around so much it never finds its footing, leaving the audience wanting for more of one of the subplots.
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