Trouble with the Curve (2012) – Written by Randy Brown; Directed by Robert Lorenz; Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and John Goodman; Rated PG-13 for blasphemy and other crass language;
With the pacing and Americana scenery of an afternoon at a high school baseball game in anywhere USA, Trouble with the Curve is an enjoyable, satisfying story of a man and his daughter and their love for the national pastime. In its best moments, the movie offers a fresh perspective – for the baseball movie genre – of the role of the scout in traveling back roads of small towns, sitting on worn bleechers and consuming lots of hotdogs slathered with everything, all to spot the first glimmers of star talent in unlikely places.
The main story here belongs to Clint Eastwood’s grizzled, irascible Gus, who has been a scout for the Atlanta Braves for over three decades. Living alone in a neglected shack and with a thirty year old car (even if that car is a pretty cool Mustang), Gus has no passions left in life except his work. He knows everything there is to know about baseball, and next to nothing about anything else. His daughter, played by Amy Adams, is a super-achieving corporate attorney, and, much like her father, seems to have little life outside her work. The two are emotionally distant from each other for reasons the movie gradually unfolds. Justin Timberlake does an acceptable job as the love interest for Amy Adams, and the buffer between father and daughter. The B-story follows a high school baseball star whom all the MLB teams are scouting trying to determine if he is, as the movie says, “the next Albert Pujols.” Before long, Eastwood asserts that the boy has “trouble with the curve,” and in so doing, sets himself against the young guns pushing to retire the old scout.
The story flows well, even if it broadcasts fairly clearly its reversals, including the big Act Three climax. Both main characters have profound and motivated arcs of transformation, and the sub plots all come together well to provide the satisfaction and resolution that the audience yearns for in a story.
The acting here is solid. I especially enjoyed the back and forth between the 80 year old master, Clint, with the beautiful and talented, Amy Adams. It’s just fun to watch two actors who really are good at their game tearing up scenes with their ability to find and project the emotion and stakes at every moment. Some of the other acting, especially among the younger ball players – is uneven, but not disturbingly so.
The dialogue in the movie is its weakest element and, sadly, strays several times into the unnecessarily crass arena, complete with blasphemy. I don’t why the overlords at the production company and studio stupidly made this choice One of the insults hurled by a young ball player goes completely over the top in referencing sodomy, and in so doing, moves the whole project into PG-13 territory. It is completely gratuitous and frankly, annoying, because now I can’t generally recommend the movie for families. Stupid. It’s like Hollywood has just forgotten how to make a family movie any more. Anyway, be warned that the language is coarse in places, in case that ruins movies for you.
My husband and I both enjoyed Trouble with the Curve. It doesn’t rank among the greatest sports movies ever made, or even among the greatest baseball movies ever made. But it is a good story well told, and makes for a nice night at the movies.