Trouble with the Curve is still a charming baseball movie in watching the film a few months after it marked its tenth anniversary.
The film marked the directorial debut for Clint Eastwood’s longtime producing partner, Robert Lorenz. If you want my opinion, the director is in there with a stand-up triple. While the film isn’t Eastwood’s final acting role, it’s one of his last roles on screen and honestly, you couldn’t ask for more. Plus, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, and baseball trivia are added to the mix. You can’t go wrong with that! They help give the film its charm to the film and elevate it from what is a formulaic baseball/family movie that has no business working as well as it does. When you add everything up, it’s so much fun watching the film again all these years later.
Age has finally caught up with longtime Atlanta Braves scout Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood). Lobel’s eyes might not be what they once were but he still has a way of knowing a pure hitter when he hears the crack of a bat. The Braves send him out on what could very well be his final scouting trip–this time, he’s joined by his attorney daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams). Mickey is doing it as a favor to Gus’s boss, Pete Klein (John Goodman), even though she would rather be working her way towards a partnership. The two of them are not close and this dates back to Mickey’s youth. Neither one wishes to be on this scouting trip together. Baseball will always come first for Gus and Mickey knows it. Will something change this time around? Maybe, maybe not.
Throwing a curveball into their situation is Boston Red Sox scout, Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake). While Johnny hits it off with Mickey, he’s aiming for a broadcasting job. He’d rather not be scouting on the road but he’s making the best of the situation. Johnny isn’t just working on the job but once he enters Mickey’s life, she has to juggle more than she wants. It isn’t just everything in North Carolina but her work as well. What about her current boyfriend? Just wait and see. The romance sideline does play into typical rom-com beats especially Mickey’s able to talk Johnny out of signing Bo Gentry. He feels betrayed the minute he hears that the Braves drafted him. But wait! As the film heads towards a climax, Mickey hears the sound her father kept talking about and spots an unknown pitcher: Rigoberto “Rigo” Sanchez (Jay Galloway).
On paper, the father-daughter tale is the sort of story that has the potential to contend for an Oscar. What happened there? For one, Warner was pushing Argo. The other part is that it just doesn’t do what Moneyball was able to do. This isn’t to say it’s not a charming movie because it is. At the end of the day, Trouble with the Curve is about aging and reconnecting with family on the road. It also works as a reminder that computers don’t have all the answers when it comes to scouting. As much as I love studying the analytical numbers in the same, it’s not a substitute for what happens on the film. Computers don’t see the fact that a hot prospect has issues with hitting certain pitches. It’s something that Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard), the associate director of scouting, ends up missing.
I’ve been meaning to revisit the film for quite some time now. Between TIFF and the Jewish holidays, I didn’t get around to watching the film in time for its anniversary. It also didn’t help that I was also under the weather and wanted to watch Albert Pujols inch closer to hitting his 700th career home run. In any event, I wanted to watch the film again for the first time since watching it in theaters.
Trouble with the Curve might not have the same movie magic as Moneyball but Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, and Justin Timberlake help make it a charmer and capture the dynamic of a changing game.
DIRECTOR: Robert Lorenz
SCREENWRITER: Randy Brown
CAST: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman, Robert Patrick, Matthew Lillard,
Scott Eastwood, Joe Massingill
Warner Bros. released Trouble with the Curve in theaters on September 21, 2012. Grade: 4/5
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