Trouble with the Curve opens Sept 21

“Trouble with the Curve” throws a sinker.

I am not going to do it. There is no way that I am going to review the new Clint Eastwood movie and force my dear readers’ attention to anything mentioning an empty chair or make sly Republican jokes (I am not that clever). So, don’t expect it. I am jumping right into the review, tell you about the movie and if it’s worth your $10. I am a better reviewer than that (at least I think so).

“Trouble with the Curve” a Robert Lorenz directorial debut tries to generate on screen chemistry between mega-stars Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake. Each actor having had success with movies like “Million Dollar Baby,”  “The Fighter” and “The Social Network,” it would seem like an easy home-run (I promised I was not going to make any chair references I never said anything about not making baseball references).

Lorenz had trouble revving up the film’s pace in time for us to deeply care about the father- daughter relationship between Eastwood’s and Adams’ characters. We are introduced to Gus (played by Eastwood), an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves, as he tries to urinate with intense trouble then hits the fridge for a can of Spam. Most of the first 30 minutes is setting the agenda of how old Gus is and how out of touch he is with technology as he still relies on instinct and experience to draft young men into the majors. We also experience Gus’s eating habits from eating Spam to pizza for breakfast to burnt hamburgers.

Gus has a strained relationship with his 33-year-old daughter, Mickey (played by Adams).  She is an emotionally unavailable, yet successful attorney up for a partnership position at her firm. She sees her old man infrequently and they have nothing in common.  They argue often, she storms off and he acts like nothing is bothering him. He drifts into his typical Eastwood grunting style of acting.

Gus heads to North Carolina to scout a high school home run prodigy, Bo Gentry, an arrogant little brat that you just want to hit over the head with a chair (not the chair). Gus, being in his eighties, is having eyesight issues so his reluctant daughter skips out on a very important case at her firm to help dad.  While in North Carolina they run into one of Gus’s old recruits, Johnny “The Flame” (played by Timberlake). When you have two attractive people on the same screen, there should be some on screen chemistry. Right? Well, there is and there isn’t. Timberlake and Adams seem to jive but it’s nothing that jumps out off the screen and says this is a good thing. They go out drinking and quiz each other on baseball history,  while the audience can easily see Johnny will soon be stealing second (wink, wink) but not without Mickey giving the stay on first signal.

After their relationship is established, we are giving an insight to Mickey’s trouble past with her dad. Her mom died when Mickey was 6 and Gus had trouble raising her as a single dad. At age 13, he ships her off to boarding school without speaking to her for years. Gus is around 80, which means he must have been about 60 years old when he shipped his kid off so he can focus on being a scout. How can we feel sympathy for this man’s decision? What 60-year-old is too busy or too uncertain of his parenting abilities to raise a teenager?

The movie finally picks up speed when draft day is upon us and Gus uses his old instinct on draft choices. It causes trouble for everyone involved but luckily the lady attorney with some baseball experience comes into save the day. She drafts her own prodigy to the Braves. Really? Someone who has no professional affiliation with Major League Baseball gets to draft an unknown player. After a long movie, it felt as if the Hollywood ending was given to us in a neat package with a bow on top.

Should you see this movie?  Are you over the age of 60? Are you an avid baseball fan that can pick up on obscure baseball trivia? If yes, then this will be a good movie for you.  I don’t see how young viewers would relate to Gus’s problems as an old man. This movie had a demographic in mind when it was written – anyone with daddy issues; that has a great love for the sport; or is experiencing old-age issues. There is some heart here and some funny Eastwood one-liners, but not enough to cover up the slow pace of the film.

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