Review: Trouble with the Curve

Trouble with the Curve Did you know that when you get old things change? Well in Robert Lorenz’s first solo directing gig we get to see a character experience this eye opening event. Trouble with the Curve explores Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) as he transitions into his twilight years. That is the simplest explanation, however that’s not completely fair. While no masterpiece, Trouble with the Curve is more than a fancy unofficial addition to the Grumpy Old Men movie franchise. The first 15 minutes of Trouble with the Curve are spent poorly walking us through Gus’s life as a grizzled elderly professional baseball scout. Between the kicking of tables and defining yoga as some type of voodoo I couldn’t help but hate the movie. We get it, Clint Eastwood is old! We saw the guy talk to an empty chair for 12 minutes! As I began to write the movie off something happened. Enter Amy Adams, who plays Gus’s daughter Mickey. The fast talking lawyer on her way to becoming a full partner at her firm is single minded career focused. However when Gus’s eyes begin to fail him she is forced to drop everything and tend to the father, emotionally, she never had. Gus and Mickey’s relationship consist of sitting quietly in a dinner watching seemingly endless baseball footage, a really riveting relationship. As she meets up with Gus in North Carolina, we are greeted to more old man angst. Heavy handedly, Robert Lorenz shows how much Gus doesn’t want Mickey’s help. Much like most of the movie’s larger points, this is pretty cliche and predictable. These standard movie beats really hold it back from having any heart. While on “vacation” from her law firm in Atlanta, Mickey meets Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake). A former professional pitcher, who was scouted by Gus himself. Johnny takes an immediate liking to the sassy Mickey. Predictable! The tension between the two is obvious and with that the pursuit is on. The backdrop of all these intertwined relationships is Gus’s scouting of a young arrogant amatuer league ball player while in North Carolina. Gus is going blind but his sense of the game is as sharp as ever. Can he make the right call while barely being able to see? Well I won’t give it away here, but remember what I said earlier about predictability.

The most interesting portion of Trouble with the Curve is the tenuous relationship between father and daughter. The slow reveal of why both characters are so emotionally inept is fascinating and one of the most ‘out of left field’ moments, no pun intended, in the movie. However, it’s not the most bizarre twist, that comes towards the end.

All and all Trouble with the Curve is a nice, sweet, and non-offensive movie. Unlike in Gran Torino, Eastwood’s aging process isn’t peppered with racial epithets. Eastwood does have a conversation with an inanimate object, but its not embarrassing this time. Eastwood does old and emotionally dead better than most, and for that he is entertaining. Timberlake is endearing and gets some of the better quips. With great support from John Goodman the cast is well rounded, with the exception of Matthew Lillard who I thought was more like a cartoon villain than anything else. Ultimately, what saved this movie from being a complete throw away for me was Amy Adams. She somehow is able to pull out a heartfelt performance from a fairly shallow script. She seems to embody the dichotomy between balancing career and family for the upwardly mobile modern woman. I look forward to her take on the iconic Lois Lane in next year’s Man of Steel for the very same reasons.

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