Review: TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 8 December 2012


RATING: 2.5/5

In 2008, actor-director Clint Eastwood had stated that GRAN TORINO would be his final acting role. But four years later, he's back in the acting role again. That's not all, this is the first movie Eastwood has starred in which he has not directed himself since Wolfgang Petersen's IN THE LINE OF FIRE (1993). And believe it or not, TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE is first ever baseball movie for Clint Eastwood. As interesting as it may sounds, the movie turns out to be nothing more than a cliched-ridden, old-fashioned baseball drama that we have seen countless times before.

Clint Eastwood plays Gus Lobel, a veteran baseball talent scout for the Atlanta Braves who likes to do his job the good old-fashioned way when comes to picking great players rather than relying on computer technology. But his stubbornness to keep up with the 21st century trend is about to cost his longtime job, especially he has to compete with his rival -- a cocky and tech-savvy young scout named Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard) who believes that using computer technology to scout great players is the future of baseball. Not only that, Gus is also suffered from an old age and his eyes are stricken with macular degeneration and glaucoma (a condition where his vision becomes blurry). So Gus' old friend and colleague Pete Klein (John Goodman) quickly convinces Gus' attorney daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) to go help her old man when he has to travel to North Carolina to track the players of minor league team Grizzlies for their first pick in the upcoming draft. At first, Mickey claims she's very occupied with her job since she's on the verge of making partner at her firm if she can win a big case that's been assigned to her. But not long after, she begins to feel responsible for her old man and decides to help Gus after all. Once she's in North Carolina, she meets another young scout named Johnny (Justin Timberlake) where they slowly fall for each other as well as subsequently learning the truth from her old man that why she's being sent away to boarding school when she's a young kid.

First-time director Robert Lorenz, a longtime partner to Clint Eastwood who used to work as an assistant director or producer since THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY in 1995, directs TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE in an economical style similar to Eastwood's directing pattern. If one day Eastwood decides to call it a quit for directing movie, I can say Lorenz can be his next successor. But for now, Lorenz still has a long way to go to become as successful as the Hollywood legend himself. His direction is strictly by-the-numbers, and most of the times the whole movie feels like a made-for-TV movie. Working from a screenplay by Randy Brown (another first-timer), the story is also awfully formulaic from start till the end. And as a baseball drama, fans of the genre might find this a crashing bore because the movie takes too many leisure time establishing the love-hate, father-and-daughter relationship between Gus and Mickey.

But thanks largely to its above-average cast, TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE remains surprisingly watchable. Clint Eastwood is no stranger for playing a curmudgeon role. His performance as a cranky old man with a sharp sense of sarcastic humor may have been too familiar but always entertaining to watch for. Amy Adams is engaging as the tough but vulnerable Mickey. In fact, she steals the limelight out of every actors involved here (and yes, that includes Eastwood as well) with her irresistible, yet remarkable performance. At the same time, she can be sweet-natured enough to share a brief but wonderful chemistry with Justin Timberlake, whose own performance is quite likeable.

The upbeat finale is particularly where the movie gets interesting (the one involves Mickey finally picks a great player that can save her old man's job). It may have been too brief, but it's good enough to end the movie with a satisfying payoff.

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