THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE"
Trouble With the Curve available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and for download 12/18!
Trouble with the Curve is a father/daughter relationship drama, an inside baseball movie, and a romantic comedy all wrapped together. That's at least one thing too many. Conceivably, such a mixture could work, so long as the movie picked one of them as its center, then added just a dash of the other two as flavor. Curve wants to be all three equally. Bad idea. In the end, the film is one-third terrific, one-third mediocre, and one-third poor. Or, put another way, I had one-third of a great time.
Clint Eastwood plays Gus, an aged and perpetually cranky baseball scout. A computer whiz (Matthew Lillard) wants the team management to put Gus out to pasture in favor of Moneyball-like statistics crunching. They give him one more chance, sending him down south to check out a promising high school player. But Gus's vision isn't so great anymore, so his semi-estranged, workaholic daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) leaves behind her job at a law firm to watch over him, even though she's teetering on the edge of becoming a partner. Lots of things happen, forcing Gus and Mickey to reevaluate their relationship. While sorting things out with her dad, Mickey meets a younger scout named Johnny (Justin Timberlake) and begins to fall for him.
You might be able to see where all this is going if you're psychic – or if you've seen more than ten movies in your lifetime. Nonetheless, the interplay between Gus and Mickey is really satisfying. Eastwood, of course, has played the lovably crotchety old fart several times now, yet he always does it with gusto. He strikes up some solid chemistry with Adams, who is really the heart and soul of Trouble with the Curve. In the hands of two lesser actors, this material would go beyond sappy. Both stars have very distinct, human-centered approaches to the characters they play, and that serves this film well. The father/daughter interactions never ring false, even when the screenplay throws in an out-of-place family secret in the third act.
Story-wise, Trouble with the Curve is a film in which you can see the wheels turning. Everything unfolds exactly the way you anticipate it will. Take the baseball stuff. It's not enough for the player Gus is scouting to be good; he also has to be a complete jackass who stoops so low as to insult the Latino kid who sells peanuts at the game. (One guess where this is headed.) Robert Lorenz – Eastwood's longtime producer, making his directorial debut – also makes sure to overemphasize the “old vs. new” debate in talent scouting. Gus, you see, is the Last of a Dying Breed, his superior skills about to be phased out by those asinine computer thingies all the kids are into these days. (One guess where this is headed.) I don't mean to imply that the baseball scenes are bad; they just don't offer anything new.
As for the Mickey/Johnny romance...the less said the better. Adams and Timberlake have substantially less chemistry than Adams and Eastwood, thus creating a lack of reasons to care. There's no heat between them, and Randy Brown's screenplay feels like a laundry list of romantic cliches.
Trouble with the Curve would have been better had it scuttled the romance altogether, focused on Gus and Mickey mending their fences, and set it against the backdrop of a scouting trip. Instead, it devotes more or less equal time to all three elements, creating a jerky, stop-and-start rhythm that prevented me from becoming fully absorbed. But allow me to go on record as saying that Clint Eastwood is one of my favorite actors, Amy Adams is one of my favorite actresses, and seeing them compliment each other so well is Trouble with the Curve's home run in a game full of singles and foul balls.
Sorry for the baseball pun, but that really kind of sums it up.
( 1/2 out of four)
Trouble with the Curve will be released on Blu-Ray combo pack, DVD, and digital download on Dec. 18. An UltraViolet copy of the movie comes in the combo pack.
The supplementary features are a bit underwhelming, as they run a collective total of just 10 minutes. “Rising Through the Ranks” is dedicated to director Robert Lorenz and tracks his rise from Eastwood's assistant director to his producer. Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake also offer effusive praise for his abilities as a first-time filmmaker.
“For the Love of the Game” centers on Adams and Timberlake, with the actors discussing their attempt to create chemistry onscreen. Eastwood pops up to say how wonderful he thinks they are. (He's not wrong.) As with the first feature, it's a fairly generic stars-congratulating-each-other piece that doesn't offer any real insight into the film itself.
Picture and sound quality on the disc are excellent.
Trouble with the Curve is rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking. The running time is 1 hour and 51 minutes.
Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at Lulu.com! Paperback and Kindle editions also available on Amazon.com!