Title: Trouble with the Curve
Director: Robert Lorenz
For this guy, watching baseball is as boring as it could get. However, last year’s Moneyball was yours truly favorite movie without question. So take that as a little disclosure if you will.
Trouble with the Curve should be retitled “The Clint Eastwood Grunt-a-thon.” After every conversation, he scowls and lets out a raspy, “Errr.” Now granted, he’s playing a grumpy old baseball scout that still uses payphones and has never touched a computer in this 111 minute telling. Hell, he still has subscriptions to newspapers all over the country so he can compile the stats in his personal notebooks on high school and college players he scouts for the Atlanta Braves.
Enter in Matthew Lillard, the latest hotshot scouting executive who takes full advantage of all the technology in today’s world. He urges John Goodman, who is the director of scouting for the organization, to get with the times and stop relying on Eastwood’s archaic ways of traveling to the shanty ballparks to make choices in the all-important draft. Goodman is on Eastwood’s side, but he realizes that something is a bit off in the Scrooge persona the respected man usually embodies. Acting on his suspicions, he convinces Eastwood’s daughter, Amy Adams, to venture out with him on a vital scouting trip to make sure he doesn’t screw this up.
That’s the gist of it, kids. Naturally, and predictably, the daddy/daughter relationship is flushed out (sort of) all while Eastwood tries to maintain his loner lifestyle. Another angle, also predictable, is wedged in through the addition of Justin Timberlake. He plays a rising scout for the Boston Red Sox, who Eastwood actually once scouted as a player, and takes interest in the boarded-up Adams. From there, the camera follows these three in-and-out of local North Carolina ballparks, bars, and a shanty hotel; as they all try to work things out while scouting a highly touted prospect (played by Joe Massingill).
A good portion of this dialogue feels Disney-ish, and when considering the backdrop of rugged baseball and the persona of the three leads, it comes off cheesy, off-kilter, and dated quite frankly. The main three are serviceable but the real acting awards in this flick goes to Matthew Lillard and Joe Massingill. In their limited roles, they exude such arrogance that you will actually begin to despise them and wish for tragedy upon their characters. Other than that element, this is going through clichéd motions within the script and even with the painfully obvious direction of the three leads.
In the closing 15-20 minutes, there are a few subtle story choices that almost get you curious about how this will end up. But alas, it goes exactly how your mind, and the basic foreshadowing script, expects it to.
Overall, Trouble with the Curve is as charismatic as baseball uniforms and about as clever and articulate, as a politician’s speech. And sticking with the baseball analogies, this story is as meaningless as regular season game in May or June.