Director: Robert Lorenz
Screenplay: Randy Brown
Producers: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Michele Weisler
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, Matthew Lillard, John Goodman
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 111 min.
Early into Trouble with the Curve we meet “Peanut Boy” (Jay Galloway) a Latino youth that throws a bag of peanuts at Bo Gentry, a cocky hitter at the top of the draft list and who all the scouts are there to check out, including Clint Eastwood’s Gus. Problem is that Gus is losing his vision so he’s depending on his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), named after the baseball legend, to help him figure out if the Gentry kid is as good as the computers say he is.
It’s important to note this scene because from the moment it plays out, I expected the story to meander in his direction. It eventually goes the way you’d expect it to though that bit of plot doesn’t take centre stage until much later in the movie and the farther the plot meanders from that scene, the clearer it becomes that Trouble with the Curve isn’t really a movie about baseball. Sure, there’s a lot of baseball in it and it takes place in the heat of a baseball road trip (complete with tailgaters) but at its core this is a family drama and a romantic comedy brought together by baseball.
Gus is a stubborn and independent guy, the best scout in the business. Bo Gentry is the up-and-comer everyone’s talking about so the Braves send Gentry out to make sure that the kid is solid. But Gus’ boss and good friend Pete (John Goodman) knows Gus isn’t doing so well so he calls up Gus’ daughter Mickey and essentially convinces her to help out dad by going with him on this scouting trip which could likely be his last. Reluctantly she agrees, a decision that will affect both her personal and professional life. While on the road she and her father finally come to terms with their broken relationship, Mickey falls for a former player turned scout (Justin Timberlake) and she eventually saves the day by discovering that Peanut Boy is an exceptionally gifted pitcher.
Randy Brown’s script is a feel-good little drama that seems specifically written for Eastwood and his brand of cantankerous old man. There’s no “Get off my lawn” here but there are a few lines that come remarkably close. He’s a mean beast but he’s also Eastwood and it’s hard to separate the star from the character. Eastwood may get top billing but the bulk of the story centers on Mickey and her various troubles, both professional and personal, and as fun as it is to watch Eastwood deliver one liners and threaten to cut guys with broken beer bottles, Trouble with the Curve is at its best when Adams and Timberlake share screen time. The two have a natural chemistry and the dialogue between them is lightning quick. Sure, it’s loaded with baseball trivia (there’s oodles of trivia) but it’s surprisingly well balanced so that baseball initiates aren’t bored.
Those going in expecting another Moneyball are going to be sorely disappointed. This is more Fever Pitch than anything else and though there is definitely baseball involved, it’s not at the heart of this story. Trouble with the Curve is first and foremost, a very entertaining romantic comedy, it just happens to be one with a sports sensibility that makes for a date night winner, complete with happy endings.
Trouble with the Curve opens Friday, September 21st.