CAST: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, Joe Massingil, Chelcie Ross, Bob Gunton, Robert Patrick DIRECTOR: Robert Lorenz WRITER: Randy Brown RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. LOCATION: United States
CINEMA rating: V 14
Octogenarian Gus (Clint Eastwood) is losing his sight, and along with it perhaps his contract as a baseball scout which will expire in three months. His only living relative is a 32-year old daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), an attorney with a bright future as a partner in a law firm in Atlanta. Gus’ boss and friend Pete (John Goodman) cannot convince the stubborn Gus to heed the doctor’s advice to have his eyes fixed, so he prevails upon Mickey to accompany her dad on another scouting assignment, to North Carolina. Mindful of her promising career, Mickey nonetheless spares a few days to be with the father she never felt loved by. Here Mickey meets Johnny Flannagan (Justin Timberlake), a former pitcher now scouting for the Boston Red Sox. As it turns out, the decision to take the trip with her father is one that will lead to others never planned or hoped for.
The plot may be formulaic, even predictable, but it is redeemed by the superior quality of the other technical elements, like crisp editing, a good cast, charismatic performances, and character development. What director Robert Lorenz lacks by way of visual excitement, he more than fills up with perceptive characterization. Eastwood is Eastwood, and being the ultimate professional he definitely delivers at whatever role he chooses to take on. Here he proves to be a spunky match to Adams’ chutzpah, grumpy when he needs to be, and tender when the moment calls for it, as in that scene by his wife’s grave where alone he holds a picnic for two.
Perhaps Trouble with the Curve is too mushy and contrived for the taste of some, but many will find the emotions and situations it presents easy to resonate with. It is populated by warm and real people who find themselves in dilemmas all too familiar to the rest of us. Baseball may be the film’s premise but the movie is not about the game; it’s about being in touch—not just superficially with people who matter, or with the work we do, but most of all being in touch with one’s deepest feelings. It’s about following the inner compass that enables us to steer our lives and to understand and be freed from half-neglected hurts. Trouble with the Curve also symbolically applies the brakes on cold technology (evaluating baseball players’ potential through sheer computer power alone) and gently and effectively resurrects enduring human values that hold the world together, like genuine caring for another person, communication between parent and child, fidelity in marital love, etc. This entertaining and superbly told story is for families to watch and then discuss over a midnight snack. Teenagers, watch the behavior of baseball phenomenon Bo Gentry (Joe Massingil) towards “Peanut Boy” and see how he ends up. Surprise!