'Curve' lacks luster onscreen
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 23:09
“Trouble with the Curve” is the story of Gus Lobel, an elderly baseball scout played by Clint Eastwood, who makes his first onscreen appearance since 2008’s “Gran Torino.” While struggling with his age and a contract that is set to expire in a few months, Gus takes his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams), a single 30–something aspiring lawyer who is expecting an imminent promotion along on a scouting trip to a small town. Here, they try to reconnect with one another. Along the way, another young baseball scout and old friend of Gus, Johnny (Justin Timberlake), attempts to pursue a romantic relationship with Mickey.
The film marks the solo directorial debut of Robert Lorenz, an assistant director and producer who has worked with Eastwood on numerous projects, including “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “Invictus.”
The film takes a sharp turn about halfway through. While the film’s plot had been leaning toward one of a daughter trying to take care of an elderly parent, we are suddenly subjected to Mickey gushing out towards her father about a supposed closeness they never shared. The shift is rapid and interrupts the film’s flow.
The romantic subplot is mediocre. The characters don’t really seem to fall in love and only go on one date throughout the course of the entire film.
What is most infuriating about the romantic plot is its conclusion. Near the end of the film, Johnny storms out on both Gus and Mickey for supposedly tricking him into giving the Red Sox a false scouting tip, costing him a chance at a broadcasting job with the team he’d been hoping for. However, a few short minutes later, he appears out of the blue and reconciles with Mickey with next to no words exchanged as to how he arrived and where his career is now headed. This is all after a single date.
The film’s biggest problem is perhaps its inability to discern when it should return to either Gus’ story or the romantic plot. The result is a film which never reaches a satisfying emotional conclusion in either story arch. The audience’s overall feeling at the film’s climax isn’t cheerful, or a sincere heartfelt joy, but rather an “oh, okay, that’s what happened” feeling.
Eastwood’s performance is superb, making Gus a character who has lingered on past his years but is unwilling to cope with his advanced age. Amy Adams delivers a good performance, as her chemistry with Eastwood is rather believable. Justin Timberlake, of course, plays a pretty boy again, and well you can’t fix what ain’t broken. John Goodman also does well in a minor role.
Beyond the occasional humorous remark from Eastwood or the few baseball references that the avid fan will catch, humor is practically non-existent in the film.
In short, “Trouble with the Curve” is, at its core, a run-of-the-mill father-daughter story, not spectacular, not awful. A romantic side plot that, in the end, doesn’t truly add anything to the film is tirelessly included. The cast performs well enough and the films flaws lie within in its inconsistent directing. While the film as a whole is unremarkable, its true accomplishment is its featuring the great Clint Eastwood in his first non-directorial lead acting role in decades. Here, the veteran actor delivers a flawless performance, which should most certainly be commended when award season rolls around.