After starring in Gran Torino in 2008, Clint Eastwood claimed he was done appearing in front of the camera. Since then, he has directed a film a year, with Invictus, Hereafter, and J. Edgar respectively. But a delay in his A Star is Born remake due to Beyonce's pregnancy caused Eastwood to put a hiatus on his retirement rather quickly.
Sometimes Eastwood's presence alone is enough to make something worth watching, as was the case with Gran Torino (a movie I considered great on first viewing, but which shows some serious deficiencies the more you watch it). Unfortunately, not even he can save Trouble With The Curve, a standard, predictable film from start to finish. Oddly enough, Eastwood's acting counterparts, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, end up being Curve's only highlights.
Eastwood stars as Gus Lobel (but for all intents and purposes, he's playing the same grumpy old Clint he basically always plays now), a legendary baseball scout about to be phased out of the game on account of changing philosophy, and to a greater extent, his failing eyesight. Gus works for the Atlanta Braves where a new, computer-loving scout (Matthew Lillard) has started convincing management that Gus and the rest of the old-school need to go.
Mickey (Amy Adams), Gus' daughter, is a hard working attorney on the verge of becoming a partner at her firm. Their relationship is a bit strained to say the least, and has been that way since Mickey was very young. When Gus is given a make-or-break assignment (thanks to a longtime friend, played by John Goodman) to scout a top prospect on the verge of the draft, Mickey decides to accompany her dad on the road, not only to help him see (literally) the on-field play, but to help mend their relationship as well.
When I first left the theater, I was pretty indifferent to TWTC. I knew it wasn't good, but I very much had a "whatever" reaction. It was exactly what I had expected - a baseball movie that's not really about baseball filled with contrived characters and situations. But the more and more I think about it, the more I truly dislike the film. It's the definition of "playing it safe," with everything falling perfectly into place. If you think something is going to happen, you're probably right.
The baseball aspects of Curve are atrocious. I understand that this is a movie centered around a father and a daughter, but when you use a sport as your backdrop, you should be obligated to at least get some things right. And when the father/daughter relationship is so obvious, it's easier to scrutinize elsewhere. It's as if screenwriter Randy Brown knows nothing about baseball. The "classic" scouting philosophy he presents is flawed, repudiating basically every aspect of modern baseball analysis without truly understanding what it's disagreeing with.
At times it seems like Brown pulled random baseball phrases out of a hat, not always using the lingo correctly. For MOST people, these are non-issues, but for someone possessing what I like to consider to be a good deal of knowledge about baseball, and someone with a semi-intimate knowledge of the scouting process, these are hard issues to overlook.
Perhaps my biggest issue with Trouble With the Curve is the way it creates conflict where conflict doesn't need to be. The drama here should be between Eastwood and Adams, but Brown feels it necessary to make both Lillard's character and the high school player being scouted completely unlikeable by making them act like total, well, assholes. It all feels very forced.
What doesn't feel forced are the film's only redeeming qualities - Amy Adams in general, and her interactions with Justin Timberlake, who plays a young scout and former player. Adams and to a lesser extent Timberlake overcome the predictability to give quality performances, making you almost forget that you already know everything that is going to happen.