Sunday, December 23, 2012

Movie with Abe: Trouble with the Curve

Trouble with the Curve
Directed by Robert Lorenz
Released September 21, 2012 / DVD December 18, 2012

Clint Eastwood has established a reputation for himself in his later years as a filmmaker still regularly putting out quality films in his late 70s and early 80s. The now 82-year-old actor routinely plays gruff old men with a distaste for the way society has gone, and the people who encompass it, whose meeting with a younger, brighter free spirit changes all that, which worked marvelously in “Gran Torino” and “Million Dollar Baby.” Eastwood hasn’t starred in a movie directed by someone else in nineteen years (since “In the Line of Fire”), and it’s hard to recognize that this effort, the debut of Eastwood’s former go-to first assistant director, isn’t of his own creation, the latest mediocre attempt at recapturing a familiar premise.

It’s not to the credit of “Trouble with the Curve” that it comes just one year after the hugely successful “Moneyball,” which presented a marvelously compelling argument for the effectiveness of computer-generated baseball statistics. Eastwood stars in this film as Gus, an aging scout with a strong dislike for anything electronic, convinced that being at the field and hearing the sounds of the game are crucial to making accurate and solid picks for future stars. Gus contends with two young up-and-comers with distinctly different viewpoints on the matter, Justin Timberlake’s Johnny, a former player who scouts as a building block to being an announcer, and Matthew Lillard’s Phillip, who dismisses Gus as irrelevant because of his age and style. As Gus heads to North Carolina to look at a buzzed-about hitter, it’s obvious where the story is headed, and that old ways will prevail over new and untested quick fixes.

Eastwood has given much stronger performances, particularly in his previous screen role in “Gran Torino.” Here, it’s clear that he’s not trying as hard, partially because Gus just isn’t a compelling character. Amy Adams is also lackluster as his lawyer daughter with a love of her own for the sport, and Timberlake has had much better material to work with in most of his past screen roles. This is an over-simplified story with all too convenient twists and plot points, and the sentimentality inserted is excessive and forced, hardly comparable with the finessed emotionality of Eastwood’s previous films. The script from debut screenwriter Randy Brown is uncreative and contrived, and Lorenz’s first time in the lead behind the camera is unmemorable. This movie may be about having trouble with the curve, but it's ultimately more trouble than it's worth.


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