Film Review: Trouble with the Curve

Trouble with Curve is the directorial debut from Robert Lorenz and it is a painful paint by numbers affair that doesn’t excel in any way shape or form.

The film follows a grizzled old baseball scout, Gus (played exactly as you would expect by Clint Eastwood), who is about to be forced into retirement by the Atlanta Braves in favor of new blood and computer programs.  The Braves are getting ready for their draft and Gus is sent out to scout the best high school prospect phenom; only his vision is going out and his somewhat estranged daughter, Mickey, leaves her law firm to help him do his job.  From there the father/daughter duo tries to get over some past issues and a young scout, Johnny, tries to swoon Mickey.

The biggest problem with the film is that it is devoid of conflict.  Yes, the third act finally gets around to some big wedges thrown between characters, but they feel artificial and forced even if they lay the ground work on all of them.  Everything is so methodically pieced together that nothing is surprising from start to finish.  Every beat early in the film you can see exactly where it is going and the only thing that surprised me was a dark turn of events that felt incredibly out of place; don’t worry though, the film glides right past the darkness and never mentions it again.  The film’s ending is about the only moment that works emotionally, but it achieves that by splitting everyone up with those aforementioned wedges that don’t have much weight.

The other giant detriment to the film is that it doesn’t do anything well and fails entirely as a baseball film.  The baseball elements are laughable at times and it, like last year’s superior Moneyball, take far too much of a one sided approach to the player evaluation system.  The villain is played by Matthew Lillard, who does nothing but look at his computer when assessing players, while Gus kicks it old school by visiting the ball field.  Both this film and Moneyball could have done a better job of explaining that it is a mixture of these two methods and not one or the other.  Beyond this shortcoming, the baseball elements in the film are riddled with errors.  Balls go to right off the bat then they show it go over the left field wall, the number 2 hitter on the team is perceived as a scrawny little kid that can’t hit, even though he is hitting 2nd, and the “stud” prospect is not a very good player.  His swing is terrible (he hits off his front foot and drops his hands), he is a chubby guy we are supposed to think is five tool and he is such a giant asshole to an extent that it is unbelievable.

The actors are fine in the film; Clint Eastwood is grumpy, Justin Timberlake is charming and Amy Adams is full of spark.  Timberlake and Adams have chemistry, but the romance in the film is just completely undercooked.  Same goes for the father/daughter relationship which just runs in circles the whole time and resolves with little drama; outside that aforementioned dark turn.  The kid who plays the prospect is not only a mediocre ball player, but is asked to play the part as such a giant douche bag I can’t even judge whether he is a good actor or not.

Trouble with the Curve is a mediocre film with nothing to offer the viewer.  Predictable, safe, and devoid of anything resembling a fresh idea, you could do a lot better at the theater this weekend.  The actors are all fine, Timberlake is the standout, but they aren’t able to lift the weak plots at every turn in the film.  Failing as a romance, family and baseball drama, I can’t recommend heading out for this one.

Trouble with the Curve is a D-