Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Trouble With the Curve Review

Robert Lorenz’ “Trouble With the Curve” is basically “Moneyball”—if it were told from the point of view of the crusty old scouts that are opposed to using computer programs as a way to recruit players—crossed with a sappy father-daughter melodrama with a romantic comedy thrown in. “Trouble With The Curve” also marks Clint Eastwood’s return to acting; his last role was in his own directorial effort “Gran Torino,” in which he played an aging, raspy voiced racist, grumpy coot. In “Curve” he also plays an aging, raspy voiced grumpy coot (is this how he wants to be last remembered on the screen? As a grumpy old raspy voiced coot?). No, he’s not racist but he’s set in his old ways and won’t budge. He plays Gus, a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves who’s slowly losing his sight and slowly being phased out.

His younger, smugger colleagues are using computers, therefore they’re able to recruit players faster. But not Gus. He don’t need no fancy computer, or Internet. Instead he uses newspapers and goes out to all of the games of a potential recruit. He may be going blind, and may need a hearing aid but he’s got years and years (and years) of experience as well as a gut instinct. Most of the movie consists of either Gus complaining about technology and youngsters, or bumbling around breaking objects and hurting himself because of his failing vision.

Then comes his estranged daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), a progressive young gal who’s a big time lawyer, hoping to make partner at her firm. Against Gus’s wishes she accompanies him on his current scouting trip (where they’re checking out a cocky North Carolina kid with first draft pick potential) to try and bond with him. She knows a thing or two about baseball—from the few times she spent time with her dad as a kid—so she’s able to give Gus a hand, or better yet a pair of eyes. The whole trip she’s constantly on her laptop or cellphone and Gus is always telling her to cut it out (meanwhile he’s tripping on the bleachers and getting into car accidents, no alarm there) while she insists she can multitask. There’s a true battle of the old generation vs. the young generation going on all throughout “Curve” and by the end it feels strongly in favor of doing things the old fashioned way.

Eastwood’s crusty old man antics are worth a few laughs initially before it gets kind of sad. Though, much like with his “Gran Torino” performance his Gus act gets real old (no pun intended) real fast. Adams is able to hold her own, even though she deserves better material. The same day I screened this movie I also saw Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master,” in which she gives a completely different performance. She has a wide acting range.

As for the rest of the movie, there’s not much to get excited about. The screenplay by Randy Brown is all over the place, unsure of what kind of movie it wants to be and Lorenz can’t find a consistent tone. One minute there’s corny, PG humor, the next minute there’s super melodramatic scenes between Gus and Mickey, and then Gus is in a bar threatening a random bar patron with a broken beer bottle for making a pass at Mickey. On top of that Lorenz and Brown throw in a romantic comedy side plot between Mickey and Johnny (Justin Timberlake) who’s now a scout for the Boston Red Socks, which makes the movie even more unfocused.

The only thing “Trouble With the Curve” really succeeds at is being a comedy about an ailing baseball scout and his young daughter. Clearly that wasn’t Lorenz and company’s sole intent, judging by the constant mood swings. So, as a serious film about a fractured father-daughter relationship, as a sports feature, and whatever else kind of movie “Trouble With The Curve” tries to be, it fails.


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