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Star – Clint Eastwood
Genre – Drama/Comedy
Run Time – 110 minutes
Certificate – PG13
Country – USA
Awards – 2 Wins & 1 Nomination
Amazon – £5.00 DVD £7.49 Blue Ray
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Trouble with the Curve (2012), for me, is one of those films you don’t want to rent or buy as the online ratings weren’t great and so holding out for it on terrestrial TV as you just need to see it. Well it never did and so I eventually had to buy it to tick it off the movie bucket list. My list is very strict. I have to se what’s on it or else! I like Clint Eastwood and as the four times Oscar Winner is about to kick that proverbial bucket as his 87th year approaches, you want to see the final few films he acts in. He has only acted in five movies so far this millennium and you have to go back to 1993 when he last appeared in a movie when he didn’t director himself, ‘In the Line of Fire. He is a true American icon and should be enjoyed, Grand Torino, his previous movie, and a real cracker. Rather ironically he never won a Best Acting Oscar and got all four for directing and best picture, and had to wait until his 70s. A movie about baseball is essential for an American acting greats CV but there would be no Oscar here.
===His Oscar role call===
2015 – American Sniper – Nominated for Best Picture
2007 – Letters from Iwo Jima – Nominated for Best Picture & Best Director
2005 – Million Dollar Baby – Won Best Picture & Best Director and Nominated for Best Actor
2004 – Nominated Best Picture & Best Director
1993 – Won Best Picture & Best Director and Nominated for Best Actor
• Clint Eastwood as Gus Lobel
• Amy Adams as Mickey Lobel
• Justin Timberlake as Johnny Flanagan
• Matthew Lillard as Phillip Sanderson
• John Goodman as Pete Klein
• Robert Patrick as Vince
• Scott Eastwood as Billy Clark
• Ed Lauter as Max
• Chelcie Ross as Smitty
• Raymond Anthony Thomas as Lucious
• George Wyner as Rosenbloom
• Bob Gunton as Watson
• Tom Dreesen as Rock
• James Patrick Freetly as Todd
• Joe Massingill as Bo Gentry
• Jay Galloway as Rigoberto (Rigo) Sanchez
Aging Atlanta Braves baseball scout and general grump Gus Lobel (Eastwood) eyes are going and ready for pasture. Out of respect for what he has done for the club the owners decide to give him one last assignment to prove his value as his contract runs down and so sign another one, unaware of his failing health. They view him as a dinosaur as he doesn’t do computers and all that moneyball stuff. Gus is the ‘shape of the arm. sound of the ball in the air and ‘thud’ in the glove type of guy. His boss and friend Pete (John Goodman), of course, does not want to see him let go but being pressured by an ambitious junior executive, Philip (Matt Lillard), to do exactly that. Phillip is trying to get a promotion and needs Gus to be fired as he is in the way to his own baseball philosophy and methods he wants to implement. That would be computers and moneyball.
Pete decides to see if Gus is OK as he is clearly slipping and suspects he is hiding problems with his health, so against Gus's wishes, Pete contacts Gus's feisty lawyer daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to come and see dad. She is a workaholic and also pursuing a big partnership at her firm and has not seen much of dad since mom died. But when Pete puts her right she shows up for dad on a scouting trip to North Carolina to check out a college player called Bo Gentry, a brash amateur whose hitting statistics make him a likely top draft pick for the Majors.
Mickey quickly realizes that Gus's vision is failing and begins to be his eyes on the trip. The doc has told him he has macular degeneration and needs an operation, something his daughter had to find out elsewhere. Mickey loves baseball and very knowledgeable and so can help him give the hitter the once over.
On the trip Gus runs into a former player he once scouted, Johnny "The Flame" Flanagan (Justine Timberlake), who is now a scout for the Boston Red Sox. They are both looking at Gentry. Johnny also takes a shine to Gus’s daughter. This stirs up feelings for dad and daughter and she confronts him on various issues in their relationships, the trip now about reconnecting with her father, and the fact Gentry can’t deal with the curve ball, every pitchers biggest weapon.
I love baseball movies but this one is near the bottom of the list with League of their Own, alas. It’s just dull and not a lot happens. The baseball action is minimal and certainly no ball hitting the floodlights at night in the final glorious scene. This one ends with a wet fart. Field of Dreams is just gorgeous fairytale and Redford superb in The Natural. Trouble with the Curve is more a story about relationships with a baseball backdrop.
Eastwood looks old and crotchety on screen and as one critic put it – ‘as chiseled and mobile on screen as a Mount Rushmore head’. It’s just not the Eastwood we want to see in film in the same way we don’t want to see the old Sean Connery and Michael Cain on screen. He is cool actor and we want to remember him as he was and so not make a mug of himself. Amy Adams is just great at everything she does and this is a breeze, hardly likely to turn down the chance to work with Eastwood. Timberlake is quite charming on screen to pull in the younger audience with the distraction of the perfunctory love story. I have no idea why John Goodman is in this.
It’s easy going and if you can deal with the slow ride and folksy rhythms you will enjoy this. But as stand out film about baseball it isn’t. Baseball is such an integral sport over there and part of the American story yet that passion and romance just doesn’t come through here. Its one of those movies that probably looked great on the screenplay in storyboard and written word but in practice just doesn’t transfer to the big screen. The whole baseball metaphor around love and relationships doesn’t really work. We get that life threw Gus and his girl a few curve balls in life but we needed more of the baseball.
Sadly it bombed big time at the cinema and its way too high budget at $80 million for a non special effects movie pulled just $49m back. That’s shocking for a Clint Eastwood movie. Maybe this is when he should have retired and that’s the real movies metaphor? It’s OK but nothing more and feels every second of its 110 minutes. It’s not a baseball movie and it’s not a romantic comedy and a hybrid we could have done without. Three strikes and out!
Imdb.com – 6.8/10.0 (49,345votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 51% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 58% critic’s approval
Quit a few, assign the movie was never going to be right
-Behind the Scenes-
Basic stuff with no Eastwood or Adams involved.
Financial Times –‘There stands Clint as schmaltz gathers momentum. He looks like Mount Rushmore in the rain’.
The Playlist –‘Lacking narrative momentum, saddled with thin characterizations and uninspired plotting, Trouble With The Curve should've stayed on the bench’.
The Mail –‘"Trouble With The Curve" is a picture of small pleasures, and a lunkheaded finale isn't enough to ruin all of the good will it earns through its first two acts’.
Canada.com –‘Eastwood manages to maintain his decorum throughout, like some veteran pitcher who's lost the speed off his fastball and relies on a sneaky change-up. He does just a few things, but he does them remarkably well’.
Efilm.com –‘As for Adams and Timberlake, they clearly signed on for the chance to work with a genuine screen legend -- wouldn't you, given the chance?’
Film Comment Magazine - The good news is that Eastwood does his thing to perfection, Adams provides the spunky cuteness, and Timberlake couldn't scrub his eager charm off with a Brillo pad if he tried.
The Guardian –‘It's sentimental and glutinous, and the ending is almost surreal in its contrivance and unbelievability’.
Aren't you tired of this same old formula? Once again, we get an underdog sports movie (baseball...yawn...) that carves out its path the minute the lead character is introduced. Once again, we see the ageing Clint Eastwood playing a grumpy man with snarky outbursts and failing health or to put more simply, channelling what he did in "Gran Torino." Once again, Amy Adams fills the role of a charming, adorable female, this time as Eastwood's daughter. Once again, singer-turned-serious-actor Justin Timberlake eases into the role of a cheeky young love interest. Once again, there are the uptight, suit-wearing executives who we know are ultimately getting the big middle-finger up their egos when they're eventually proved wrong by this unlikely protagonist who triumphs.
There is dysfunctional family drama as the father and daughter are estranged. She is a career-driven city girl, seeking the approval of her distant father. He pushes her away for the corny, cheesy reasons explained in a teary expose given by the usually stern father. It's supposed to be all the more touching as he's not the kind of guy to get touchy feely with his emotions. And also guess what happens when the uptight city lawyer meets the fun-loving, free-spirited country boy. She begins to smile, she begins to laugh, and fully embraces the country girl within; because no-one can be happy working in the city wearing suits all day hounded by our nasty bosses to meet all the project deadlines. Instead we all need hotdogs, skinny-dipping, drinking liquor out of the bottle, and to follow our hobbies passionately - and there we've unlocked the secret to Hollywood's happily-ever-after. Screw jobs and supporting yourself, hurrah to freedom. We've seen it all before, down to every single subplot that goes on here.
But in a strange way, director Robert Lorezn, a frequent Eastwood collaborator in his feature film directorial debut, makes certain aspects work, and even with all the tiresome narrative pitfalls the script doesn't even bother to try to avoid, there are scenes of genuine tender-hearted emotions as the actors fully engage in what they do best with a sugar-coated, easy-going narrative that bombards us with optimism and sunshine wherever we end up. It's a film guaranteed to provide the warmth and fuzziness, a welcome distraction during the coldest few months of the year in which this film is being released over here in the UK, but the many, many flaws and lazy storytelling often threaten to jeopardise the film's good and honest intentions.
Having to deal with declining health is never an easy task for anyone, especially for someone who prefers to be alone in his quiet life. Working as a baseball scout who refuses to modernise his ways with computers and electronic data analysis opting instead to watch the live games of various players, Gus (Eastwood) faces a non-renewal of his scouting contract that expires in 3 months as the big bosses aren't convinced by his old way and performance. His stubborn nature won't let him do otherwise, and his worried friend Pete (John Goodman) enlists the help of Gus' daughter Mickey (Adams) who is also a baseball whizz herself knowing all sorts of facts and trivia about the sport. The relationship between the two has never been easy, with Mickey blaming her father for her emotional problems that affect her personal life. Her father's been distant. She therefore doesn't trust men. She therefore has never been in a serious relationship as she refuses to let anyone in. Classic soapy story that's been done hundreds of times over. Enter Johnny (Timberlake) to fix all this - as a former pitcher once recruited by Gus, he has since retired from his sporting duties and is also on the scouting duty, having nothing but respect for Gus and a keen pair of eyes for Mickey. Timberlake and Adams share an easy chemistry to sell their romance although there seems to be a spark missing given how formulaic some of the developments turn out to be.
When it comes to dealing with the baseball aspect of the story, it often fares worse than the human drama. Gus knows everything there is to know. He knows every single kind of pitching there is in baseball, and therefore puts him a class above all the "interweb" (how original)-obsessed suits who don't have a lot of faith in him. And guess who comes out triumphant in the end. Plus there are the obligatory build-ups and slow-motion finales to really lay everything on thickly. Subtlety is certainly not one of the film's features and the ending suffers greatly because of it. The snarky villain, mainly in the form of Philip (a well-cast Matthew Lillard), is thoroughly embarrassed and put in his place and everything wraps up far too neatly as if this were some sort of a children's fairy-tale story. For a human/sports drama wanting to be taken seriously, it takes one too many dead-predictable easy routes to tie everything up, greatly diminishing whatever dramatic impact it could have had, drowning it all out with too much sap.
But the overall results can be described as a heart-warming experience, thanks mostly to Eastwood doing what he often does best. His extreme irritable mood and coldness towards his own daughter are personality traits that may seem incomprehensible at times, but for a man who doesn't want to accept the fact that his body is not the way it's used to be, there is a fair amount of sympathy to be aroused and the film cashes in on every moment to capture his ailing health. It's a little odd however, to find that his general weakness only truly affects him when convenient to the film's overall narrative shape. And no matter how heart-breaking it may be to see Dirty Harry shed some tears over his dead wife, was it really essential to have him sing "You are my sunshine" by her graveside? A plot strand used later on when Mickey seems to have picked up this little habit to sing to her new boyfriend.
Due to the many bumps and annoying audience-insulting moves along the way, the overall result seems underwhelming. But with a cast this good, performing only to their strengths and with a guilty-pleasure element attached to the underdog story, you'll almost forgive its sluggish style with which it chooses to pitch its story.