As the 2012 baseball season winds down, Clint Eastwood takes the field in the new sports drama
“Trouble with the Curve.” Looking more weather-beaten than he did a few years ago in “Gran Torino,” Eastwood is his typical gruff self in a highly-predictable story about America’s favorite pastime.
The veteran actor plays Gus Lobel, one of the best baseball scouts in the industry. Time and a failing pair of eyes may take him out of the game, however. Gus tries to bluff his way around his poor eyesight, but he can’t hide the damage to his furniture or his car.
Pete Klein (John Goodman), his boss and best friend, suggests that Gus’ daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) join him on an upcoming road trip. Mickey is up for a major league promotion at her law firm and can’t afford to be away from the office. In order to reconnect with her estranged father, she finally agrees to help Gus find new prospects for the Atlanta Braves.
With Eastwood and Adams playing father and daughter, “Trouble with the Curve” should have more heart and humor than it does. Eastwood has some truly funny lines, but the story is too uneven to make it enjoyable.
Justin Timberlake does have nice moments with both Adams and Eastwood as rival scout Johnny Flanagan. Intended as a love interest for workaholic Mickey, Flanagan actually represents the negative aspects of baseball. As a promising pitcher, Flanagan’s coaches worked him so hard that he tore his rotator cuff early in his career. Scouting is his ticket to an announcer’s job if he can sign players as talented as Albert Pujols.
Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill) also shows the flaws in the scouting system. Gentry is a hot young prospect who cares more about endorsement deals and groupies than playing as part of a team. Bo has ability, but Gus knows that the power hitter isn’t quite as good as everyone thinks.
Frequent Eastwood collaborator Robert Lorenz directs this baseball story, but he telegraphs all his pitches. Working from a screenplay by Randy Brown, Lorenz makes it all too easy to guess where the plot is heading. The director has likeable characters to work with, but the screenplay doesn’t give them enough challenges or versatility.
“Trouble with the Curve” is warm and fuzzy, but it isn’t very satisfying. Eastwood and the cast are lobbing softballs at the audience when they should be throwing high, fast ones. It’s a minor league film with a major league cast.
“Trouble with the Curve,” rated PG-13, currently is playing in theaters.