Reviewed by Ian Forbes, Sobering Conclusion
“And the home … of the … brave! – Play ball!”
Well, it’s the top of the first in Trouble with the Curve and director Robert Lorenz has decided that the best person to play a cranky Clint Eastwood type is … Clint Eastwood! He’s a right-handed batter, some call him Dirty, and in the film he’s an aging baseball scout whose eyes are beginning to go out on him. Don’t worry sports fans, he’s got tremendous ears for a man his age and he’s got this one-dimensional character down so well, he’s able to coax a walk out of the pitcher.
Next up is Amy Adams, playing Eastwood’s daughter. She’s a fiery redhead pursing a partnership at a law firm and emotionally distant thanks to the cliché back story that will be slowly tossed at the audience like a softball from an eight-year old. She’s the most consistent hitter in the bunch and about all that the team can brag about this season. Doubling into left field, she places the team in scoring position.
Rounding out the top of the order is Justin Timberlake. After starting out with a boys’ team in Orlando, he’s work hard to be taken seriously at this level. A former pitcher whose injuries have steered him into the scouting field with an eye on the announcer’s booth, his only real contribution to the team is giving Adams someone to lean on and look forward to being teammates with over the long term of their contracts. He lays down a bunt and beats the throw to first but Eastwood doesn’t have nearly enough speed to risk a run to the plate (and no, I have no idea why he’d lead off if that’s the case but this metaphor is already stretched, just go with it).
Working behind the scenes to bring the team together is the head of the Atlanta scouting department, John Goodman (I hear he’s a heck of a bowler). He’s from the old school, and despite the surge in popularity brought about by the Moneyball folks in Oakland and pretty boy Brad Pitt, Goodman prefers to rely on the trusted and gravel-voiced advice of Eastwood. Matthew Lillard plays an upstart that relies on computers and statistics but what kind of formulaic and paint-by-numbers movie would this be if his backstabbing won out in the end?
And so, the game goes on … and on … and on … well into extra innings with a runtime of 111 minutes (if you include the post game credits) and without ever scoring a run. If you think you know how the strained father-daughter relationship, the romantic pursuit, and the struggle between new school and old school scouting will all turn out – you’re probably right. Don’t pat each other on the backside just yet though, that’s not a compliment.
This is one game that audiences could mindlessly bet on with any local bookie and if this were a 5-game home stand, I’d give Trouble with the Curve a decent chance to win 2 out of 5. It’s a crowd-pleasing game but that’s just the nice way of saying you won’t need any help keeping up with the strategy employed by the coaching staff.
Trouble with the Curve hits theaters on September 21, 2012 and is rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking.